Community paints grim picture of smoking

TAKING A STAND: Naomi Carberry and Simone Kelly have joined locals in urging people to quit smoking.

TAKING A STAND: Naomi Carberry and Simone Kelly have joined locals in urging people to quit smoking.

SMOKING is the cause of more deaths among Indigenous Australians than any other disease and the Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) has had enough.

Community members gathered at the Threeways Yawarra last Friday as part of World No Tobacco Day to make a pledge to quit smoking.

People were able to sign the pledge to quit by pressing their hand print painted in the colours of the Aboriginal Flag on a large canvas.

The canvas will be framed and hung on the wall at AMS.

Event organiser, AMS regional health and lifestyle co-ordinator Sharon Hateway said quitting smoking was something we all needed to do.

"We need to be teaching our young ones that smoking is not a good thing," she said.

Ms Hateway explained that Aboriginals on average smoked tobacco twice as much as the rest of the Australian population and addiction was a devastating problem in Indigenous communities right across Australia.

Ms Hately said the World No Tobacco Day was also a good opportunity to raise awareness among the Aboriginal community of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy.

The event at Yawarra was part of an annual initiative from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which this year is lobbying governments around the world to increase tobacco taxes.

According to WHO, almost six million people die from tobacco-related illnesses every year, while 600,000 of these deaths are a result of passive smoking.

The WHO states tobacco kills nearly half of its users and it claims the drug could have an annual death toll of around eight million people by the year 2030 if serious action is not taken.

It also has a goal to cut smoking rates in half by 2018.

Simone Kelly, who attended the Yawarra event, was able to successfully quit smoking two-and-a-half years ago.

She said days like World No Tobacco Day gave people valuable health information and support to be able to quit smoking.

Ms Kelly said her personal journey to quit was also about helping her family.

"If I can do it, they can," she said.

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