Tobacco with the scientific name of Nicotiana tabacum is a plant known to originate on South America during prehistoric times and spread northward to North America. Long before Columbus discovered America 5000 years ago it was believed that the Native Americans already adapted, domesticated and refined the use of tobacco. Europeans and Spanish explorers spread tobacco to Europe and then to Asia including here in New Zealand, since then “tobacco is the fastest spreading plant in human history” (Herrick, C., Herrick, C., Mitchel, M. 2010). Native Americans first use this by shamans (medicine men) in sacred ceremonies by drying the leaves and smoking it in pipes. Tobacco have played an important role in the history, it is an important bartering product during the precolonial times and was one of the cause in the spread of slavery and the means to win the war for the independence of America. Now a days, many people all over the world use tobacco as a recreation despite the many negative known effects from its use. People smoke tobacco because of its psychoactive effects which in turn relieve anxiety or a means of relaxation from stress and pressure, it stimulate the mind to be more active and sometimes cause hallucination; while most of the time people specifically the younger generations start to smoke to look mature, be like their friends and to experiment. By the time the younger generation becomes an adult, they become addicted and becomes their habit they cannot get away from in the long run. Tobacco smoking known to cause serious preventable diseases that could lead to death such as cancers of different kinds, heart diseases and stroke. This study will describe how did the Mäori people encounter tobacco smoking, the smoking trends of Mäori and lastly discuss the ways the government acts to these trends.
“Kai paipa” or literally mean eating pipe and “momi paipa” also means sucking pipe, this are the terms the early Mäori use to associate smoking but Mäori did not know tobacco smoking until 1700s when Europeans arrived in New Zealand. The first time they saw James Cook smoking a tobacco, the chief threw water over his head to see if his head was burning since smoke comes out of his mouth. He then told to the Mäori with him that if the water will put the fire out then he is human, if not then he is a demon and should be killed. After the water will run down his head, the wipe out the fire in the pipe, then it was decided that James Cook was indeed a human. Since then, tobacco was widely used as a standard trade item by 1800s. It was use a payment for Mäori (including children) for services and or as a form of gift in exchange of land and resources. By then Mäori of all gender and age become fond of tobacco smoking.
Currently there are 45.4 percent of Adult Mäori identified as smokers, this is more than two times the smoking rate of non- Mäori. 800 Mäori dies every year because of different smoking-related diseases which puts tobacco smoking as a leading cause of preventable death among Mäori in New Zealand (Ministry of Health 2009). Mäori adults have two times (women) and one and a half (men) the rate of smoking in total population. About 30 percent of Mäori women smoke during their pregnancy in New Zealand (Glover, M. et al. (2007). The number great numbers of Mäori smokers resulted to $260 million in tobacco taxes each year.
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Smoking during pregnancy can result to different kinds of complication to the unborn child. This complications are: Sudden infant syndrome (SIDS), premature labour and birth defects like spina bifida, cleft palate, clubfoot, congenital heart diseases and much more.
Mäori begins to smoke at an average age of 14.6 years, but experimentation and initiation of smoking tobacco begins at the age of 10.7 years. On the other hand their non- Mäori counterparts initiates smoking at the age of 11.8 years old, much older than Mäori. (Paynter, J. 2008) in general, it is reported the youth got their tobacco by purchasing it themselves or from their friends and family.
The rise of Mäori smokers in New Zealand subsequently also increase the number of Mäori that are exposed to second hand smoke. A report shows a 23 percent of Mäori are exposed to second hand smoke inside their homes while 10.9 percent for non- Mäori. 30.1 percent of Mäori exposed inside the car compared to 12.6 percent for their non- Mäori counterpart (New Zealand Tobacco Use Survey 2006).
The current trends suggest that the overall population in New Zealand, basing on ethnicity, the Mäori are much more inclined to smoking compared to other ethnicity. The current trend on Mäori smoking rates also resulted in a 22 percent of Mäori deaths that relates to smoking compared to non- Mäori which only have 20 percent of death rate (Peto, R. 2006).
The principle of the treaty of Waitangi says that the crown has a duty to actively protect the Mäori interest, the word “Mäori interest” includes the health and safety. The needs of both Mäori and the wider community must be met. Health must be available to all and treat everyone “equally”. On health promotion and health programs, Mäori should get involve in the planning, delivery and monitoring in partnership with the governing body and non-government organizations for it to be successful. The Ministry of health of New Zealand set 3 objectives basing on the current trends of smoking. These are: to reduce smoking initiation, to increase quitting and lastly to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke. Different programs and promotions were establish to attain these objectives. Some of this programs/projects are:
(Ministry of Health 2014)
- National Quit Month – Is provided by ASH New Zealand (Action on Smoking and Health), this project is a national campaign with the aim to create sixty-five thousand quit attempts with the help of different networks of professionals, media, commercial or business partners and other organizations.
- WERO (Group stop smoking competition) – Auckland UniServices are providing this project. In the project, different ethnic groups in New Zealand, including Mäori and Pacific peoples compete for the most number of smoke quitters. This is with the help of different smoking cessation provider and coach. The project hopes to initiate mass quitting, because this groups are competitive in nature.
- Campaign to enhance smoking cessation interventions in general practice – This project focuses on the primary care sector. This is project utilizes different kinds of media like video to present information on tobacco smoking and the ways to prevent or stop this addiction.
- Incentives for Pregnant women to Stop Smoking – due to an increase number of smoking pregnant women, this project will focus on the younger generation. This project will teach and guide them through intensive support and incentives like vouchers given to successful participants.
- Supporting Smokefree Intersectorally – Provided by Counties Manukau DHB, this projects supports smoking cessation non-government agencies or organizations in the places with greatest need primarily in the place of Counties Manukau.
- Quit Bus – A mobile bus which travels to different regions, especially to areas that is hard to reach. This bus will provide support with the people who wish to stop smoking.
- Shifting the Culture in Mental Heal Services – This project aims to improve the mind-set of the current acceptance level and the encouragement of smoking. This includes the research and development of guidelines and takes it into action in the primary site.
- Smoke free Movement – This project provided by Massey University focuses on youth to create a smoke free movement. This includes different competitions like designing of smoke free applications or software, video blogs and video documentaries about smoking.
- Back to the Future: Preserving our People through Performance – This project is provided by National Heart Foundation – Tala Pasifica. This project uses the conventional methods know to different cultures or traditional methods of communication. These are though entertainment, storytelling, humour and dance. Modern ways of spreading information are fully utilize like Facebook and online blogging.
- Taking NRT Direct to Smokers – University of Otago is the provider of this project. This project focuses on giving smokers an opportunity to try Medsafe-approved nicotine replacement. Used as a therapy to stop smoking. This will give the smokers motivation and inspiration to quit tobacco smoking.
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