NATIONAL: An Aboriginal who is chronicling his efforts to quit smoking on Twitter and Facebook has backed Australia’s new cigarette plain packaging laws.
Luke Pearson was 13 when he started smoking and by 20 was getting through a pack a day.
“My father was a fairly heavy smoker and like any young bloke I watched him smoke all the time,” he told AAP.
“One night I snuck out to his truck parked out the front, pinched one of his Winnie (Winfield) reds and coughed my guts up horribly.”
Mr Pearson, a 32-year-old Aboriginal from Newcastle, ditched the durries on Friday – the day before Australia’s world-first plain packaging laws began.
His quit attempt is not linked to the laws, which force cigarette manufacturers to produce olive-coloured packets with graphic health warnings.
But he believes the packets will prevent some children starting the habit.
“We liked our fathers’ Winnies in the same way that we liked our fathers’ cars and our fathers’ political parties – because they were so easily recognisable,” Mr Pearson continued.
“There will still be things that attract kids to smoking, but the packaging won’t be part of it.”
Mr Pearson is writing about his quit attempt on the no_smokes Twitter handle for 20 days.
The handle is part of the Menzies School of Health Research’s No Smokes campaign, which targets young Indigenous Australians.
He’s also blogging on the No Smokes Facebook page and as of Monday had gone four days without a ciggie.
Mr Pearson’s blogs have already spurred several other people to quit and he particularly wants to inspire young indigenous Australians.
Smoking causes one out of every five deaths among Australia’s indigenous population, according to the Menzies School of Health Research.
And more than half of Australia’s indigenous population smokes, compared to less than 20 per cent of non-indigenous Australians.