Ditching the Durry

28 April 2011 | 00:00 - By Josh Ridgeway

Josh Ridegway looks at the alarming smoking rates among Indigenous Australians.

According to recent government statistics, one in two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders smoke, so it's not a far stretch to say there's never been a better or more crucial time for Indigenous people to quit.

But for our communities and Australians in general, saying no to the cigarette isn't as easy as putting down the lighter. In remote areas, that 50 per cent average smoking rate can rise as high as 70 or 80 percent.

It's a real concern, especially as youth are also picking up the habit, alnog with pregnant women.

So how do we help our friends and family ditch the durry and live good healthy lives?

The State, Territory and Federal Governments have committed around $1.6 billion to address chronic diseases that impact on the longevity of life through various campaigns and programs.

Communities too have taken up the fight on the grassroots level. For example, in north-east Arnhem Land, the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation have produced a number of mobile phone videos to promote healthy living.

After speaking with a number of families and individuals over the past 2 weeks, it's been made clear to me that the fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction most importantly comes down to the individual: how badly do they want to quit? Do they have the strength and willpower to see it through? Can they come to terms with the fact they have an addiction?

Whilst quitting appears to raise more questions than it does answers, by taking a small first step such as talking to your doctor, local Aboriginal Medical Service or even your friend, you're adding a few more years onto your life.

In my book that's not a bad thing at all.

Have you quit smoking? Are you trying? Why do you think Indigenous smoking rates are so high?

For more information or advice on quitting smoking, contact your local health worker or call Quitline on 13 78 48.

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