March 27. 2011 - A fresh battleground is emerging in the fight against tobacco, with the launch of a multimillion-dollar ad campaign urging indigenous Australians to quit.
The TV, radio and print campaign worth $4 million will address the fact that Australia's indigenous population has simply been left behind in the nationwide move against tobacco. Half of indigenous Australians smoke, compared with the nationwide smoking average of 17 percent. About one in five indigenous Australians will die from a smoking-related disease. A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found 50 percent of Indigenous Australians smoke regularly. That is down from 53 per cent in 2002. The number of women who smoke during pregnancy remains unchanged at 51 percent. (Indigenous smoking rates in slow decline
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Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the campaign addressed the "harsh reality'' of the alarming rate of indigenous smoking.
The ads, set to start tomorrow, mark the first time the Australian Government has produced an indigenous-specific TV commercial to be aired nationwide.
"The statistics are alarming, but the message is simple: break the chain and give up a habit that will kill you,'' she said. The ads feature a young indigenous woman talking about the friends and family she has lost to smoking.
She says she doesn't want her own children to think dying young from a smoking-related disease is normal. The tagline is "break the chain''. Indigenous Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the Federal Government was committed to halving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates by 2018.
Cancer Council chief executive Ian Olver said it was critical Australia did not leave anyone behind in its fight against tobacco.
"The general anti-smoking campaigns have focused on restrictions on tobacco advertising and price, but we obviously have a bit more work to do in specific areas like indigenous smoking,'' Prof Olver said.
The new ad campaign forms part of the Gillard Government's $61 million anti-tobacco campaign, which has also included free and subsidised nicotine patches.
Reference: Indigenous Australians urged to quit smoking in new multi-million dollar ad campaign, Anna Caldwell, The Courier-Mail, 3/28/2011.