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Welcome to ACOSH - Australia Council on Smoking and Health


WA Communities say No to Smoking with Traditional Aboriginal Games

Sunday 31st May 2015

Smoking remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. Authoritative Australian research shows that cigarettes are likely to kill two thirds of their regular consumers when used precisely as intended - or 1.8 million Australians now alive.
The most recent data show that over 40% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are regular smokers - compared with 12.8% for the Australian population as a whole.
One in five deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are caused by smoking.
Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization - WHO- marks World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health risks associated with smoking and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
The WA Aboriginal tobacco control strategic leadership group is seeking to use the WNTD celebration to support action that will reduce smoking in the Aboriginal population through culturally appropriate and community engagement activities.
More than 1,600 people across regional and remote communities in Western Australia will play such games as Garumba, Goori, Kutturi, Kungirruna, spear throwing and memory games. These games are a creative way to promote smoke-free families and increase awareness about the negative effects of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. Events will take place in Kimberley, Fitzroy Crossing, Yakanarra, Pilbara, Newman, Geraldton, Goldfields, Bunbury, Busselton, Harvey, Donnybrook, Manjimup and Collie.
"We were fortunate to have a broad set of skills amongst our team as the activities were challenging in a variety of ways. It was a fantastic day that really pushed home a number of healthy messages", said Michael Dawson, from last year's the winning team The Incredibles, Kimberley.
Dr Juli Coffin, Aboriginal Research Co-Ordination, and spokesperson for the WA Aboriginal tobacco control strategic leadership group said "this is a fun, healthy, culturally significant, tobacco-free opportunity to draw attention to the dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting, with lots of community participation across the state".
"The Games bring together WA communities to celebrate Aboriginal culture and provide an impetus to quit, cut back, or smoke away from non-smokers, including children," said Dr Coffin.
The Aboriginal tobacco control strategic leadership group recognises the importance of culturally secure tobacco prevention strategies and ongoing work in this area to achieve substantial change and support those who are trying to quit and protect their families, creating smoke-free homes and cars.
"More Aboriginal people are quitting or not taking up the habit but we need more help and support with this preventable costly addiction" stated Dr Coffin.
President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Professor Mike Daube, noted "despite some encouraging declines in Indigenous smoking, there are still enormous challenges".
"These activities are a tremendous and positive way of drawing attention to the problem and the need for action. We call on all governments to support Aboriginal people in acting on the single most obvious means of closing the life expectancy gap."
- ends -
For more information contact:
Dr Juli Coffin, Aboriginal Research Co-ordination, Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Services, 0409 377 891
Professor Mike Daube, President, Australian Council on Smoking and Health,
0409 933 933


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