Tobacco smoking is a major contributor to cancers and respiratory diseases, but also has an impact on cardiovascular health of people worldwide. It is a key risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Since 2015, Community Works has contributed to the work of the National Best Practice Unit for Tackling Indigenous Smoking or NBPU-TIS. Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) is a major program with the aim of reducing the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke. Professor Tom Calma is National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking and he regularly draws our attention to key facts on smoking on Australia, including the information below from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The Australian Government, through the Department of Health, supports TIS. Nearly forty organisations have joined this national effort and their teams design, implement and monitor a range of activities to raise awareness of the health effects of smoking and reduce numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke. The more we work on this program, the greater insights we gain on the complex and inspiring efforts of health promotion workers across the country. They run groups for pregnant women, produce and distribute materials in various forms, support champions and ambassadors for quitting smoking, promote smoke-free events, homes and workplaces, run social media campaigns and lead a wealth of creative activities all around Australia. As with good community development practice, it is often the ‘entry point’ to a discussion that is the most critical part of the process. Some organisations offer make-up sessions for women as a starting point for a discussion about health. Others have developed innovations like breakfast meet-ups to encourage men to think about the start of the day, which is often when smoking can replace good food, having further impacts on health. This year, the role of Community Works with the NBPU-TIS has been in the facilitation of six state and territory workshops for TIS plus one at national level, together with the delivery of training activities for health workers and related materials. This year World No Tobacco Day is on 31st May. The theme of the day is the impacts of smoking on the health of your heart. Coordinated by the team from Bega Garnbirringu Health Service, participants at the recent Western Australia state workshop and training day produced a video for World Tobacco Day. We are pleased to share it here: