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New initiative targets young Māori smokers

New initiative targets young Māori smokers

13 May 2014

MidCentral District Health Board, in partnership with BNZ Levin and Horowhenua College, launched the Smoke or Save (SOS) initiative last night.

Targeted at Rangatahi (Māori youth), the initiative is being piloted at Horowhenua College, with plans to roll it out to all Horowhenua schools. The latest ASH survey shows Māori youth have double the percentage of regular smokers compared to the general population

SOS will comprise of two segments. The first was introduced by MDHB Māori Health Advisor Doug Edwards at the presentation last night, and will encourage Rangatahi to stay smoke-free, or quit if they currently smoke. This will be a student-led operation where the Rangatahi set up a leadership group to run programmes and events aimed at promoting a smoke-free message. Ongoing support will be provided to this team by MDHB.

In addition, a competition will be run for those participating in the SOS initiative, which will involve the design of a resource to help spread the smoke-free message. These resources can include anything from a poster to a song, or even an app for the technologically minded. An iPhone will be awarded to the best entry.

Mr Edwards is excited about the potential of SOS. He said: “I’m excited to be bringing this message to the Rangatahi and their Whānau. This new initiative will empower them to take control of their future, and realise that using their hard earned money to feed an addiction is not the way to go.”

The second part of the initiative was introduced by BNZ Levin Manager Lesley Forward, who spoke on the ‘Save’ aspect. Ms Forward gave examples on how the youth could be saving for their future and the money they would save by not smoking. In addition, she introduced a new incentive package created by BNZ Levin for the SOS initiative. This package will see those students participating in the SOS project, and signed up with BNZ, receive incentives for saving certain amounts of money.

At the presentation, Mr Edwards and Ms Forward asked Rangatahi and Whānau to set their goals for both the health and saving components of SOS. These goals will be used to monitor progress and help determine what support is needed to help the Rangatahi achieve these.

By combining the smoke-free message with a real incentive to save money, the Rangatahi will be empowered to make positive lifestyle choices, and see real benefits for their physical and financial wellbeing.

Of course, everyone is encouraged to quit smoking. Support can be found at Quitline (0800 778 778), the Smoke-free website, or with the Quit Coaches at Te Auhi Kore Mutunga. Quit coaches can be accessed through your General Practice team.

ENDS

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