January 23, 2007
Media Release

Children deserve a smoke-free future

York Region program helps Urdu, Farsi and Russian-speaking families reduce tobacco use

NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York is reaching out to the Urdu, Farsi and Russian communities in a bid to reduce the number of children in these communities who begin smoking or are affected by second-hand smoke.
 
This message was delivered to a gathering of representatives of community agencies, settlement services and coalitions by senior local and provincial officials at an event in Richmond Hill marking National
Non-Smoking Week.
 
“York Region celebrates its culturally rich and diverse population,” said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  “York Region is committed to reaching across language barriers to better engage, interact and provide essential services to all of our residents.”
 
In 2006, York Region Health Services embarked on the creation and implementation of the Innovative Smoking Intervention Program, a three-phased outreach program to the Farsi, Russian and Urdu-speaking communities of York Region.  These languages and cultural groups are three of the top six communities, as identified by the York Region District School Board new student registration. York Region received $264,285 from the Ministry of Health Promotion under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to develop and deliver this program.
 
"This is a cause to which the Government of Ontario is strongly committed," said the Honourable Jim Watson, Minister of Health Promotion.  "It's a cause that everybody needs to get involved in.  That's why, as Ontario's first Minister of Health Promotion, I'm so pleased to see that York Region has taken such an inclusive approach to this problem."
 
In recognition of York Region’s ongoing commitment to a smoke-free Ontario, Minister Watson presented The Regional Municipality of York with a Heather Crowe Award.  The Heather Crowe Award was created by the McGuinty government to acknowledge individuals and organizations across Ontario who make a significant contribution to tobacco control efforts at a local level.  The award is named in honour of the Ottawa-area waitress Heather Crowe who was diagnosed with and died from lung cancer due to exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace.
 
“York Region has long been a pioneer in the fight against protecting residents from the effects of second-hand smoke,” said Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Chair of York Region’s Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee.  “This revolutionary program demonstrates our leadership by bringing important tobacco-related messages to the Urdu, Farsi and Russian-speaking communities.”
 
“Tobacco-related illnesses kill more Canadians each year then suicide, impaired driving, murder and AIDS combined,” added Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Acting Medical Officer of Health and Director of Public Health Programs.  “Understanding the tobacco behaviors, beliefs and attitudes of each of these language groups can better inform us about how to create culturally-sensitive best practice health promotions programs,” he added.
 
The first two phases of the Innovative Smoking Intervention Program included the development of the survey tool, translations, data collection and analysis of the survey results. The survey asked the Russian, Farsi and Urdu-speaking communities about their behaviours, beliefs and attitudes about tobacco. They were also asked how they preferred services to be delivered to them.
 
This phase includes distributing culturally-sensitive educational materials targeting parents and family members, in each of the three languages.  Lay health cessation and education counsellors will also work in each of the communities, in the three languages.
 
At present there are 13,885 Russian, 8,515 Farsi and 4,900 Urdu-speaking immigrants living in York Region. 
 
• The majority of the Russian-speaking families live in Vaughan (7,180), followed by Richmond Hill (4,895) and Markham (1,140).
 
• The Urdu language is generally spoken by residents native to Pakistan, with Urdu-speaking residents of York Region mostly living in Markham (2,345), Vaughan (1,450) 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 (4,750), followed by Markham (2,305) and Vaughan (1,300).
 
The program is managed by York Region Health Services with the assistance of representatives from community agencies, settlement services and coalitions.
 
For information on this or any other health-related questions, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.york.ca
 
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours cell (905) 716-2717
 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca


Backgrounder                                                                                    

Closing the gap
 
 Working with Farsi, Russian and Urdu-speaking communities of York Region
 
 
NEWMARKET – It is recognized that each cultural community has unique behaviours, attitudes and perceptions about tobacco use.  Tobacco education, cessation programs and services are best designed when these factors are known and taken into consideration.
 
York Region Health Services’ Smoke-Free Ontario Team was funded by the Ministry of Health Promotion.  Its task is to create and implement an Innovative Smoking Intervention Program, under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
 
The Innovative Smoking Intervention Program focuses its outreach and services on members of the Farsi, Russian and Urdu-speaking communities in York Region. These languages and cultural groups are three of the top six intake languages in the York Region District School Board, and are also faced with unique issues related to tobacco use. Targeting parents with culturally sensitive best practice health promotion programs will help achieve the overall goal of impacting the number of children who begin smoking.
 
Phase one of the program consisted of the development of a survey tool to assess smoking behaviour and perceptions among the target population. This involved language translation, field testing and survey refinement. Phase two included data collection, descriptive analysis and interpretation. A convenience sample of 151 respondents from each target population self-administered the tool in the presence of facilitators from the target populations.  The results and recommendations arising from this needs assessment exercise directed the third phase which is to create a best practice tobacco education, prevention and cessation program for the Farsi, Russian and Urdu-speaking communities in York Region. Phases one and two are completed, and phase three is underway.
 
Summary of Survey Findings:
 
Survey results indicate that the Farsi, Russian and Urdu-speaking respondents were aware of the harmful effects of tobacco  
Respondents who were parents felt that parental smoking had a strong influence on children and were willing to talk to their children about smoking
Stress, loneliness/boredom and addiction were the top three reasons for smoking reported by respondents who were current smokers
Commitment to quit smoking among respondents at the time of the survey was low
Counselling from a doctor was considered to be the best support for quitting smoking by Farsi and Urdu-speaking respondents who were current smokers, while Russian-speaking respondents who were current smokers were more likely to try to quit on their own
Pamphlets, newspapers and magazines were listed as the preferred ways to obtain information about smoking
English is acceptable for program delivery, but there is a preference to receive information in one’s native language
Summary of Recommendations:
 
·         There is a need for tobacco cessation education among members of the Farsi, Urdu and Russian-speaking populations. Tobacco education programs for these groups should:
 
·         Include gender specific information
 
·         Acknowledge the impact of stress, addiction and boredom
 
·         Increase options for cessation support counselling, including physician support
 
·         Provide cessation self-help options
 
·         Be culturally specific and sensitive
 
·         Parents need resources to help them talk to their children about tobacco
 
·         Education, prevention and cessation materials should be produced and translated into Farsi, Urdu and Russian, for distribution through newspapers, magazines, and physicians
 
Next Steps:
 
The results and recommendations arising from this needs assessment exercise will guide the York Region Health Services Smoke-Free Ontario Team in developing a best practice tobacco education, prevention and cessation program for the Farsi, Russian and Urdu-speaking communities in York Region.
 
Key elements of this program will include:
 
·         The development of culturally specific and sensitive tobacco education programs for the three target populations
 
·         The production, translation and distribution of tobacco-related educational materials specific to the Farsi, Urdu and Russian-speaking populations
 
·         The hiring of three lay counsellors that will work in and with each of these communities on tobacco cessation and education campaigns
 
For more information on this or other health-related topics, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 (toll free)
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Media Contact:       Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
 
                                 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours cell (905) 716-2717
 
                                 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca
 
 
 
 

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