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New campaign targets high Pacific smoking rates

Monday, 20 March 2006

MEDIA RELEASE


New campaign targets high Pacific smoking rates

The first campaign targeting high smoking rates among Pacific peoples launches in New Zealand on Sunday 26 March.

Almost a third of Pacific peoples living in New Zealand smoke cigarettes and The Quit Group’s latest television campaign aims to alert the Pacific communities about the health risks of smoking.

Pacific Services Advisor Linda Tasi-Mulitalo says many Pacific peoples in New Zealand do not fully understand the risks associated with smoking and that cigarette smoking is the most important cause of premature death in this country.

“Pacific peoples see their health as a lower priority than other obligations, such as church, family and work. The problem is that people cannot meet these obligations if they have serious diseases caused by cigarette smoking.”

Mrs Tasi-Mulitalo says the new commercial shows cigarette smoking causing fatty build-ups in the arteries leading to heart attacks. Smoking increases blood pressure and increases the tendency for blood to clot.

“Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease. The risk is greatly increased when smoking is combined with other factors, such as diabetes and obesity. The good news is that your risk of sudden death from heart attack halves twelve months after quitting.”

Mrs Tasi-Mulitalo says even though the commercial features a male smoker, women face an equally high risk of heart attack from smoking. The commercial encourages Pacific smokers to quit and call the free Quitline number 0800 778 778. Advice, support and heavily subsidised patches and gum are available through the Quitline.

ENDS


Smoking and the risk of heart attack

Does smoking cause heart attacks?
Smoking is one of the most important causes of the narrowing of the arteries in the heart, which leads to angina and heart attacks. It also makes the blood clot more easily and so blood is more likely to clot on these damaged areas, causing further narrowing or even blockage.

Does the risk of heart attacks reduce after stopping smoking?
The tendency to clot abnormally starts to improve within hours of quitting. The risk of a heart attack is reduced very soon after a smoker quits. The risk of heart attack is halved a year after quitting.

Are there other causes of heart attacks?
There are other causes such as high blood pressure, abnormally high levels of fats (cholesterol) in the blood and diabetes. These effects all add together so that it is a good idea to work on reducing each of them. Quitting smoking is one of the most important ways of reducing the overall risk.

What is the effect of smoking for a woman taking the contraceptive pill?
The pill causes an increase in the likelihood of having a blood clot. Smoking also
the risk of heart attack. Even more important is the risk of clots in the veins in the legs; these clots can break off and travel, through the heart to the lungs. This is called pulmonary embolism and it can cause sudden death as well as serious ill health.

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