A NEW program is set to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders quit smoking and decrease chronic disease in Tasmania.
Flinders Island Aboriginal Association chief executive Maxine Roughley said the Healthy Lifestyle Program would see association staff work with community organisations, schools, individuals and groups to develop quit smoking and nutrition programs.
``It's about closing the gap between indigenous health and mainstream health,'' she said. The program was launch yesterday by the association and the Tackling Smoking and Healthy Lifestyle Team at its new office building in Canning Street, Launceston.
Tackling Indigenous Smoking national co-ordinator Tom Calma said the program was about empowering people to make informed decisions and take control of their own lives, ``by giving up smoking or not taking it up in the first place''.
Dr Calma said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders smoking rates were double those of others in the nation.
``Smoking is an addiction, and it's not an easy one to kick, but with a dedicated team . . . we can help,'' he said. ``The role of our team is to provide people with generic information and then refer them to someone who can help.''
The Flinders Island Aboriginal Association Healthy Lifestyle Program is one of 57 teams being established across the country to decrease smoking and chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.