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Significant decrease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking

Date posted: 19 October 2017

New modelling by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Menzies School of Health Research has revealed a significant drop in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over who smoke tobacco decreased significantly from 55% to 45%, over 20 years from 1994 to 2014-15.

ABS Program Manager for Indigenous and Social Information, Dean Bowley, said the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15–17 years who smoke also decreased significantly from 30% to 17%. 'This research looked at smoking data from 12 ABS health and social surveys. It found the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 –17 years who smoke did not change before 2008 but decreased by an average 1.9 percentage points per year from 2008 onwards,' Mr Bowley said. 'This suggests anti-smoking initiatives since 2008 are having an impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.'

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 years and over who have successfully quit smoking increased significantly from 24% in 2002 to 36% in 2014–15. Successful quitters increased by an average of 0.9 percentage points per year in non-remote areas, while there was no change in remote areas.

'This is reassuring news for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. These statistics may encourage more smokers to quit and more kids to stay smoke-free because they give a message that others are doing it and so can they,' said Head of Tobacco Control Research at Menzies, Professor David Thomas. 'It is very important to celebrate such improvements which are certain to lead to sustained improvements in Indigenous health outcomes. Too often we just focus on the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and what it tells us about fairness in Australia. In this case there has been little change in the gap as there have been improvements in both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.'

'These improvements are in part due to the increased attention on tackling Indigenous smoking by Aboriginal health services and governments. The investment of significant government funding for Indigenous smoking is justified and must be sustained,' said Professor Thomas.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

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Last updated: 27 October 2017
 
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