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Smokefree Anniversary a reason for Māori to celebrate?

10 year Smokefree Environments Anniversary – is it a reason for Māori to celebrate too?

Today Māori throughout New Zealand will be listening to news on the countries 10th Anniversary of Smokefree Bars and Clubs, while they are listening there is also a high chance that they will also be wondering why they haven’t stopped their own smoking, or why their aunty, cousin, son, daughter, grandfather is still smoking despite so called leading Smokefree initiatives and a goal of a Smokefree country by 2025.

Māori regular smoking rates dropped by about 10% (from 42.2% to 32.7%) between 2006 and 2013 according to Census 2013 data. On the face of it this looks good for Māori, but that’s still more than double the New Zealand non-Māori rate of 15%.

Te Runanga o Ngāti Whatua Public Health Unit Manager Antony Thompson states that “smoking rates amongst the general population have declined at a faster rate than that of Māori rates, this means inequalities have actually widened in regards to Māori and smoking”.

He wonders why there are not more people looking at new measures that could support reducing these inequalities. “We have had some great initiatives that have worked for non-Māori, but not for Māori. Not allowing smoking in bars and clubs was one that worked well for Non-Maori. Let’s start focusing on initiatives that will also benefit Māori. If we do this as a nation then we will be much more likely to hit 2025 together”.

It seems it’s time for all of us to get brave and support a shift in current tobacco control campaigns to initiatives that will stop our whānau -aunties, uncles, son, daughter, grandfather from smoking. It seems that tobacco has continued to invade every nook, every crevice and every cranny of te iwi Māori. It’s going to take a lot of collective action, and a new mind set for many to change the current state of play. In 2025, 10 years from now if the focus was shifted we all just might be enjoying Smokefree New Zealand celebrations.


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