Butt Out Boondah, the Tackling Indigenous Smoking team of Grand Pacific Health, is urging young mob in Cooma, Yass, Queanbeyan and Goulburn to take a stand against tobacco use and vaping ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which is being held on Wednesday 31st May.
Butt Out Bondah focuses on educating Indigenous communities in the aforementioned areas about the dangers of Tobacco smoking and e-cigarettes to help in bridging the health gap.
The program addresses the pressing concern of vaping among young people in these communities, which is mistakenly seen as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco.
Butt Out Boondah's Strategic Coordinator for Aboriginal Health, Iona Marsh said World No Tobacco Day provides an opportunity to emphasise the detrimental effects of smoking and vaping.
"The concerning reality is that Indigenous young people in regions like Cooma, Goulburn, Yass and Queanbeyan are often unaware of the hazardous substances they are inhaling, and it is our duty to equip them and their parents with the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed decisions about their health," she said.
To raise awareness, the program actively engages with local primary and high schools, educating school-aged children about the dangers associates with smoking and vaping.
"The use of e-cigarettes can have detrimental effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health, mental well-being, and may serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction and subsequent smoking," Ms Marsh said.
"Studies have indicated that young people who vape are 3 times as likely to take up smoking compared to those who don't."
During Youth Week, Butt Out Boondah and local agencies organised informative service expos for students from Mulwaree High School, Goulburn High School and Trinity Catholic College.
These expos included an impactful display highlighting harmful chemicals present in e-cigarettes.
As a result, more than 120 students made a pledge to refrain from smoking or vaping.
Students from Bombala High School received a comprehensive educational presentation focusing on the negative consequences of vaping.
The program held interactive education sessions at Bomala Public School Cooma Public School, covering crucial subjects such as the contents of e-cigarettes and their impact on ones health.
Jai Lester, Principal at Bombala High School expressed his gratitude for Butt Out Boonah's efforts.
"The greatest tool we have to help our young people tackle this challenge is education. Programs like Butt Out Boondah give young people the sheer facts, of which there are plenty, without judgement or threat," he said.
While tobacco smoking rates have declined across Australia, Indigenous communities continue to face significantly higher rates.
Smoking is estimated to contribute to 23% of the health disparity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the rest of the population in Australia.
Statistics reveal that 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals aged 15 years and older currently engage in daily smoking.
First Nations people interested in quitting smoking and vaping are encouraged to contact the Butt Out Boondah team via their website or call 02 6298 2900.