Tackling Indigenous Smoking program

Support for residents and community based anti-smoking campaigns on the Mid North Coast is the local focus of record new funding for Australia’s first four-year Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program.

“Together, we are making progress in reducing smoking rates but tobacco is still claiming the lives of far too many local Indigenous people,” the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker said.

“On average, smoking is responsible for 20 per cent of preventable deaths among Aboriginal people and more than 10 per cent of the health problems encountered by our Indigenous communities.”

Mr Hartsuyker said the new funding was an important part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to Closing The Gap in health inequality, by providing certainty and continuity for proven local campaigns to reduce the devastating impacts of tobacco-related disease.

“Galambila Aboriginal Health Service currently runs TIS projects right across the Mid North Coast, covering the local government areas of Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca, Macleay and Port Macquarie-Hastings.

”From 1 July, the Turnbull Government will extend the TIS program from the existing three-year to a four-year term. While existing and proposed local TIS projects will have to apply for the new funding, we know the new four-year program will build on successes and provide security for people working in the campaigns and for local communities.

“We will also invite new initiatives, with more than $6 million in extra funding to tackle smoking among pregnant women and people living in remote areas, because rates among these groups remain worryingly high.”

The revamped TIS program will:

•               Continue the successful local Regional Tobacco Control grants scheme including school and community education, smoke-free homes and workplaces and quit groups

•               Expand programs targeting pregnant women and remote area smokers

•               Enhance the Indigenous quitline service

•               Support local Indigenous leaders and cultural programs to reduce smoking

•               Continue evaluation to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of individual programs, including increased regional data collection

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics report on Indigenous smoking shows significant declines in overall rates, with an average 2.1 percent annual drop since targeted interventions began in 2008.

“The good news is that, on average, our young Indigenous people are really reducing their smoking, with the number high school children trying tobacco down nearly 50 per cent,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“Quit rates are also up and there is evidence that the amount of heart problems from smoking among older people is already dropping. This new funding promises to build on these successes because it’s vital we keep the local momentum going.”