Australia targets Aborigines in anti-smoking drive

Australia hopes to halve 50 percent of indigenous people who smoke by 2018.

Sydney: Australia on Monday launched its first national health TV advertising campaign aimed at Aboriginal people, hoping to halve the 50 percent of indigenous people who smoke by 2018.

The government has already banned all shops from displaying cigarette packets and said the AUD 4 million campaign (USD 4.1 million) would target the fact that 20 percent of Aborigines die from smoking related diseases.

"The statistics are alarming, but the message is simple: break the chain and give up a habit that will kill you," Health Minister Nicola Roxon said in launching the advertisements.

Smoking is the number one cause of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart problems among Aborigines, who have a much shorter life span than other Australians.

"Smoking kills. It`s that simple," Indigenous Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said.

"Our government is committed to halving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates by 2018."

The television commercials, which feature a young woman reflecting on her experience of having lost family to smoking-related disease, are the first indigenous-specific ads as part of a national health campaign.

"I was smoking for years too," the woman admits in the ad. "But I quit.”

"`Cos I don`t want our kids growing up thinking disease and dying like that is normal."

Australian Aborigines die up to 11.5 years earlier than their non-indigenous counterparts and are twice as likely to die as infants.

Bureau Report

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