Quit campaign targets newly arrived communities

Anti-smoking campaigners hope those who cease smoking cigarettes, shisha and other tobacco products during Ramadan may be encouraged to kick the habit for good.



Quit Victoria has teamed up with leaders within Australia’s African communities to launch a campaign about the dangers of smoking.


Quit Victoria Director, Doctor Sarah White says it seems the message that ‘smoking kills’ hasn’t quite gotten through to some new and emerging communities.


“A lot of low and middle income countries simply can’t afford to run the public health education campaigns that we do in Australia. But worryingly I think what we’re finding is when people arrive, they are taking up smoking, so particularly the younger Australians, if you smoke you really risk your health and that’s the message we have to get through to communities that haven’t heard that message before.”


QUIT educator Augustino Daw migrated from Sudan when he was 11.


He took up smoking when he turned 15, and continued the habit for 10 years.


“I think it was social experiment. I was a teenager, and teenage life and everything. I never actually, I never knew that cigarette can actually cause you cancer or so forth. All of a sudden I started running, I started feeling deep chest pains. So I stopped for a moment and I coughed, and I’d coughed out blood. I looked at myself and I mean I used to be a fitness freak, I looked at myself and I was like, ‘wait, that’s unlike me, that’s unusual’. So I started retracing what I’ve done throughout the whole day and I went, ‘ok I think it’s from the waterpipes, I think it’s from the smoking and so forth’.”


He says many from his community are unaware of the risks associated with cigarettes and shishas.


Kenyan migrant Samuel Malual believes existing advertising campaigns don’t work for new communities because they don’t actively engage them.


“They’ve got nobody telling them, sending the message across to the community for them. They might see it on TV every now and then. Most of the older generation that came, they wouldn’t speak English.”


The campaign coincides with Ramadan – a time when some Muslim smokers put away their cigarettes for most of the day.


Eritrean community leader Yasseem Musa says family and friends who usually smoke tend to feel better during Ramadan.


“This campaign is very essential for my community and the African community as I see, because, now it’s coming in Ramadan time, when everyone is quitting from 5 o’clock in the morning until about 5 o’clock afternoon. So it is good time, starting, so people, why they not continuing quitting.”


He believes some African governments don’t prioritise anti-smoking campaigns, to the detriment of their citizens’ health.


“The awareness is very low, in there. So the government, they don’t have enough resources like what we have here, so people, to let them quitting smoke or to reduce number of smokers.”


The QUIT campaign will air in English and Arabic on radio stations around the country, including SBS Radio, until August 1st.