January 19, 2006

Working together towards a smoke-free Ontario

 

Innovative program to work with Urdu, Farsi and Russian speaking communities

 

NEWMARKET – York Region Health Services chose National Non-Smoking Week to launch the first phase of the Innovative Smoking Intervention Project (ISIP), made possible by funding from the Ministry of Health Promotion under the new Smoke-Free Ontario Act.

 

Joining Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Chair of the Region’s Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee were the Honourable Jim Watson, Minister of Health Promotion, Dr. Helena Jaczek, Commissioner of York Region Health Services and Medical Officer of Health, and representatives from diversity-related community agencies, settlement services and coalitions.

 

York Region celebrates a rich diversity of cultures and languages,” commented Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch about the program. “The opportunity to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Promotion on this ground-breaking project shows our mutual commitment to ensuring health programs reach across language and cultural barriers.”

 

The Innovative Smoking Intervention Project will work with the Urdu, Farsi and Russian speaking communities, three of the top five intake languages in York Region, to develop culturally sensitive and appropriate anti-tobacco programs, specifically aimed at reducing the number of children in these communities who begin smoking.

 

"The work you will be doing with Urdu, Farsi and Russian-speaking communities is an important milestone in the development of culturally sensitive and appropriate programs and services," said Minister Watson. "I am extremely proud that the McGuinty government is funding this program as part of our Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy."

 

Watson described the government's Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy as one of the most comprehensive in North America. This $50 million strategy includes awareness campaigns aimed at preventing young people from smoking, helping smokers quit and legislation to prohibit smoking in all enclosed work and public places effective May 31, 2006. The government is also boosting funding to the Smokers' Helpline –1-877-513-5333 – a lifeline for people who need support to quit.

 

“York Region has always been a leader in tobacco control and education,” commented City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Chair of the Region’s Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee. “We were a leader in enacting the York Region No-Smoking By-law in 2001, a leader in developing materials for our Chinese and Italian populations, and now a leader in working hand-in-hand with our Urdu, Farsi and Russian communities to encourage our young people to live smoke-free lives.”

 

“Tobacco use is the most significant cause of preventable disease, disability and premature death in Canada,” added Dr. Helena Jaczek, Commissioner of York Region Health Services and Medical Officer of Health. “York Region Health Services is excited at the opportunity to develop culturally sensitive tobacco programming that will truly make a difference to the health of our community.”

 

It is recognized that each cultural community has unique behaviours, attitudes and perceptions about tobacco use. Tobacco education and cessation programs and services are best designed when these factors are known and taken into consideration. The event today launched the important client survey phase of the Innovative Smoking Intervention Project and was held at the COSTI Immigrant Services Offices in Vaughan.

 

The program will focus its outreach and services to members of the Urdu, Farsi, and Russian speaking communities in York Region. These language and cultural groups are three of the top five intake languages in the Region, and each are faced with unique issues related to tobacco use.

 

At present, there are 13,885 Russian, 8515 Farsi and 4900 Urdu-speaking immigrants in York Region. The majority of Russian-speaking families live in Vaughan (7180), followed by Richmond Hill (4895) and Markham (1140). The Urdu language is generally spoken by residents native to Pakistan, with Urdu-speaking residents of York Region mostly living in Markham (2435), Vaughan (1450) and Richmond Hill (880). Farsi-speaking residents of York Region generally emigrated from Iran, with the majority of Farsi-speaking residents living in Richmond Hill (4750), followed by Markham (2305) and Vaughan (1300).

 

The overall goal of the Innovative Smoking Intervention Project is to impact the number of children who begin smoking. However, the program itself will primarily target parents. Through anti-smoking socialization messages, information and education around tobacco bylaws, second hand smoke and smoking cessation, the Innovative Smoking Intervention Program will increase access to accurate tobacco information and comprehensive services in the languages of these groups.

 

Phase 1 of the program involves a baseline data survey, which will be implemented in the community in January and February 2006. This will provide culturally specific insight into tobacco behaviours, beliefs, and attitudes as well as information on preferred service delivery and programming format.

 

York Region received $264,285 from the Ministry of Health Promotion under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to fund the Innovative Smoking Intervention Program. The project is being managed by York Region Health Services, with the assistance of representatives from diversity-related agencies, settlement services and coalitions.

 

For information on this or other health-related matters, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.york.ca.

 

 

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For more information on the Regional Municipality of York and the services our Region offers, please visit our Web site at: www.york.ca

 

 

Media Contact:        Kim Clark, York Region Health Services

                                 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 4101 

                                 Email: kim.clark@york.ca

 
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