Smoking a threat to Ma¯ori culture and a symptom
Smokefree Manawatu¯ focus group member Hera Epiha emphasised the need to address tobacco use from a holistic perspective because of its threat to Ma¯ ori culture.
“Smoking is just a symptom of our society. All the other things that surround smoking, like housing and unemployment, need to be taken into account too.”
Hera also shared that a smokefree Palmerston North means fitting in, having a place to belong.
“This demonstrates that strengthening our identity and knowing who we are as Ma¯ ori is so important in creating a thriving community.
“As Ma¯ ori, our identity is strongly tied to our relationship with our environment which makes getting tobacco out of our communities such an important kaupapa.”
Creating a vision for a resilient, thriving, and smokefree Manawatu¯ is high on the agenda for the focus group comprised of Palmerston North community members who attended a hui at Te Wakahuia Manawatu¯ Trust in Highbury.
The hui was called by Hapai Te Hauora/Ma¯ ori Public Health Services from Auckland, to gather information to support a proposed approach to government on reducing the availability of tobacco in community dairies.
MidCentral Public Health Smokefree health promotion advisor Julie Beckett said research shows that dairies supplying tobacco are disproportionately located in lower socioeconomic communities in which Ma¯ ori are more likely to reside.
“This contributes to smoking uptake and poses challenges for those wishing to quit.”
There are nine tobacco-free retailers in the MidCentral region.
“We would love to see more dairies choose to be tobacco free. There are many reasons dairies go tobacco free, including the fear of being robbed.
“The nine dairies have shown that their businesses can continue without the need to sell tobacco.
“Some dairy owners have commented that it’s a huge weight off their shoulders not having thousands of dollars’ worth of tobacco in their shop. Others, who are near schools, feel proud that school children won’t see people purchasing tobacco from their shops.”
While there have been some achievements in tobacco control legislation, these hui with community have demonstrated that both the smokefree sector and communities want tougher legislative restrictions on tobacco.
Focus group member Raylee Duff said there was a need for greater restriction on selling cigarettes near schools, alcohol stores and bars. She said restrictions on tobacco supply are needed if New Zealand is serious about Smokefree 2025.