Today is international smokefree day and rangatahi in the Gisborne area, with support of the Tairawhiti Smokefree Collective, are encouraging their community to be smokefree, as Te Tairāwhiti hosts the highest rates of smoking in New Zealand.
Heavy rain failed to dampen spirits of rangatahi who were urging the community to put out the smokes.
Attending the event, student Mereana Mangu o Ngāti Porou said, “Smoking is a waste of money, a waste of time, smoking is useless.”
30% of adults in the East Coast region self-report as daily smokers, twice the national average. Those figures climb to 41.7% for Māori.
East Coast Health Promoter for the Cancer Society, Roimata Mangu of Ngāti Porou, said, “Many secondary school students, and some in intermediate, are affected by this type of evil in schools. At the back of the sheds, it doesn't matter where they will find time. They will leave school briefly to get a taste of this evil.”
Tairawhiti Smokefree Collective, led by Gisborne-East Coast Cancer Society, organised the event around the theme of Smokefree Rangatahi.
“We, the guardians of our grandchildren and children, must guide them so that we all pursue a new world of clean air, to protect our environment as well, we must stop smoking,” said Mangu.
Lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer death in New Zealand, and lung cancer death rates in Tairāwhiti are much higher than in other regions (36.5 deaths per 100,000 people).
In attendance at the event, student Amiria Parata of Ngāti Porou said, “Smokefree means to me you can watch your children grow up and your mokopuna grow up because you're healthy.”
Areas in Gisborne already designated as smoke-free include:
- Parks and sports grounds, including skate parks.
- Destination Beaches: Midway, Waikanae, Kaiti, Wainui and Okitu.
- Outdoor public areas around council buildings and facilities.
- Smokefree Council run and funded events.