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Llew Obrien2
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LLEW O'BRIEN MP

Federal Member for Wide Bay

Working for Wide Bay

12/02/2018

More support to cut smoking and save lives in Wide Bay

Wide Bay residents who smoke will have more support to quit, with 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 use is still claiming far too many lives in Wide Bay, particularly Indigenous people,” Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien said.
 
“Smoking is responsible for about 20 per cent of preventable deaths among Aboriginal people, and more than 10 per cent of the health problems suffered in our  Indigenous communities, so this program is important to help reduce such unnecessary suffering.”
 
Mr O’Brien 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.
 
In Wide Bay, the North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health is delivering the TIS program in Gympie and the Sunshine Coast.
 
From 1 July, the Coalition 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,” Mr O’Brien said.
 
“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.
 
Mr O’Brien said the new funding would build on momentum already building in the community to slash the smoking rate.
 
“The good news is that, on average, the number of Indigenous high school children trying tobacco is down nearly 50 per cent, which means our young people are really reducing their smoking,” he said.
 
“Quit rates are also up and there is evidence that the amount of heart problems from smoking among older people is already dropping.”