Aboriginal Youth's Perceptions of Traditional and Commercial Tobacco

Gendron, Fidji - First Nations University of Canada
Stricker, Leanne -First Nations University of Canada

In Canada, smoking among Aboriginal youth is a public health concern.  Aboriginal youth start smoking earlier and have higher prevalence rates than non-Aboriginal youth.  The purpose of the study was to examine Aboriginal youth’s knowledge on ceremonial and commercial tobacco, its cultural importance, and its health impacts.  Study participants (grades 5 to 9, n= 25) attended workshops at the First Nations University of Canada, Saskatchewan.  Workshops were taught by an Elder, a biologist, and a public health inspector and consisted of traditional teaching of tobacco in the Aboriginal culture, activities with native plants commonly used in ceremonies instead of commercial tobacco, and the health impacts of cigarette smoking and cessation options.  Participants answered a pre- and post-workshop surveys.  Preliminary results indicate that participants recognized more traditional tobacco uses and identified more native plants after the workshops.  Perceptions and beliefs were changed after the workshops.