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Summit to further Maori smokefree vision

Te Reo Marama, The Quit Group, Health Sponsorship Council
Media release
Friday 29 May 2009

Summit to further Maori smokefree vision

Leading Maori public health professionals will converge on Wellington today to attend a Maori Tobacco Intelligence Summit, being held at Te Papa. The expressed intentions of the Summit are to reinvigorate the movement towards achieving smokefree Maori communities and to redefine and support a worldview that challenges tobacco use.

“Tobacco use among Maori is at epidemic proportions causing unnecessary illnesses and 600-800 deaths in Maori communities each year,” said Shane Bradbrook, Director of Maori smokefree group Te Reo Marama.

“If there is one thing we can be sure of it’s that somewhere right this moment, a Maori whanau is mourning the loss of a loved one to the tobacco industry.”

Talk at the Summit will focus on improving existing health promotion, research, policy and services/programmes to help Maori quit smoking.

The Summit will also emphasise turning talk into real workable action to build on gains achieved over the past 10 years.

Smoking rates among young Maori have dropped, for example, due in part to adults modifying their smoking behaviour around children. Leadership from Maori politicians and kaumatua is also combating the view among many Maori that smoking is a socially and culturally accepted addiction.

Summit organiser Riripeti Haretuku says Maori leaders and health professionals are willing to step up and work positively to build on these gains but active partnership with government will still be required.

“If we are to rid our communities of tobacco’s devastating effects, it is important we do not have a change of heart on programmes and initiatives designed to achieve that vision, whether or not there is a recession. The health of our people must always remain the priority,” she said.

The New Zealand Tobacco Use Survey, 2006, found that smoking rates were significantly higher among Maori (45.8%) compared with European/Other (20.0%). One-half (50.6%) of Maori females were smokers. At the time of the survey, around two-thirds (65.0%) of smokers had made a quit attempt in the last five years, including around two-thirds (67.8%) of Maori smokers.

The full report can be downloaded from the Ministry of Health website:$File/nz-tobacco-use-survey-2006-v2.pdf

Facts about Maori and smoking:

Maori disproportionately affected by second-hand smoke:

• A Maori non-smoking adult is likely to be surrounded by twice as many smokers per household on average.
• Maori children can be expected to have twice the SHS exposure of non-Maori children.
• A Maori worker is more likely to be exposed to smoking during actual working hours.

Life expectancy

• Maori lose, on average, 3 to 4 years of life to cigarettes. The life expectancy for Maori men is 68.6 years, as opposed to 72.5 years if no one had ever smoked at age 25 or more.
• For Maori women life expectancy was 74.1 years, as opposed to 77.0 years if no one age 25 or more had smoked.

Lung Cancer

• Lung cancer the leading cause of cancer death for Maori.
• Maori lung cancer mortality rates are three times higher than non-Maori rates.
• Lung cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Maori males and the second most common among Maori females during 1996-2001.
• On average, 240 Maori were diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and 228 Maori died from this disease. (Wellington School of Medical and Health Sciences, 2006)


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