The government-funded smokefree campaign ‘Smoking Not Our Future’ is successfully helping to bring down the numbers of young Maori smoking, the Public Health Association annual conference was told today at Pipitea Campus, Victoria University, Wellington.
The campaign uses television, radio and print advertising featuring well-known New Zealanders from sport, music and television, to discourage young people from smoking
Mere Wilson from the Health Promotion Agency said a recent survey showed Maori were more likely to recall seeing Smoking Not our Future ads (70 percent) than their non-Maori peers (63 percent), were more likely to discuss the ads with their friends and whanau (23 percent versus 16 percent), and were more likely to know someone who had quit because of the campaign (35 percent vs 23 percent).
Around 10 percent of Maori 14-15 year olds smoke every day which is still high compared to NZ European (2.4 percent), Pacific (5.9 percent) or Asian (1.2 percent). The daily smoking rates for Maori boys and girls has been declining since 1999 however, and last year Maori girls had the biggest percentage drop in daily smoking rates from 16.3 percent to 11.3 percent.
“We are using research to develop the campaign. We know that basketball is the sport most young Maori are interested in, that young Maori females read Girlfriend and Creme magazines the most, and that they are most into listening to Hip Hop then R&B and then Pop. So our choice of celebrities reflects these preferences.
“We also know that large groups of Maori are in attendance at events like Polyfest, Pasifika and Te Matatini so we aim to have a presence at these events.
“Maori and Pasifika are also high users of the internet, so we have put more effort into our online presence. Smoking Not Our Future’s Facebook page now has nearly 80,000 fans which rates it as one of the top 25 brands with a Facebook presence in New Zealand.”
Mere Wilson said that while the campaign is significant, it is one of many activities that is contributing to a reduction in the numbers of young Maori smoking. These activities include:
- smokefree promotions in schools
- the increasing number of smokefree environments
- an increase in the numbers of parents quitting
- quitting support services like the Quitline and Aukati Kaipaipa
- changes to legislation.
Mere Wilson said that despite some good progress smoking rates for young Maori are still at least four times higher than other groups. So the Smoking Not Our Future campaign will continue to deliver its smokefree, anti-tobacco messages to young Maori.
“We have been slowly moving from celebrities talking at youth, to encouraging a two-way conversation between the campaign and young people – by using social media and having celebrities attend events.
“The next phase will encourage young people to put themselves in the picture; and use their voices to have their say about tobacco, encouraged by the celebrities.”