Smoking Epidemic Among Indigenous Australians: Current Stage

Factors influencing the smoking behavior among Indigenous Australians

Cigarette smoking is one of the leading contributors which is responsible for the increase of morbidity and mortality among the Indigenous population. The impact of smoking on the health of these people depends on the duration of smoking as well as the intensity. However recently there has been a marked reduction in smoking in Australia. Despite of this the prevalence of smoking remains high which is almost estimated to be 41.4% which in comparison to population which is 14.5 % (Davidson et al., 2013).

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Factors like the social, environmental and cultural play a role in influencing the smoking behaviour. Use of tobacco indigenously is also seen to be tightly tied to Australia’s history of colonisation. .Example of this can be seen from the scenario that was prevalent earlier involving use of tobacco as a form of payment, and was issued as part of rations on mission stations (Thomas & Stevens, 2014). However in the recent years, it has been perceived that there has been a dramatic decrease in prevalence of smoking in the total Australian population.

This in turn suggested that the smoking epidemic has come down to its final stages. However, it is still not clear regarding the stage of the tobacco epidemic that prevails among the Indigenous Australian population (Nicholson, Borland, Davey, Stevens & Thomas, 2015). This paper thus aims to highlight the current stage of the smoking epidemic among Indigenous Australians based on the news articles collected from the various news organizations. The paper elaborates these articles and in addition to the discussion of the links of the articles with the given learning modules along with the discussion of the personal reflections.

The four media items analysis

Summary and analysis of the key points

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This news report revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are making attempts to ditch the national trend of smoking thus putting out their bad smoking habits. In accordance with the report, number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were aged 18 and over and were involved in smoking tobacco had dropped by 22 per cent over 20 years from 1994 to 2014/15.The data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) also found the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATI) people aged 15–17 years who smoke have decreased from 30 per cent to 17 per cent.

The report generated by Head of the Tobacco Control Research Program at Menzies School of Health Research, Professor David Thomas in collaboration with the ABS stated that each year more Indigenous Australians are successfully quitting smoking; fewer children are taking up smoking, meaning there are fewer smokers. The ABS highlighted anti-smoking initiatives like Cancer Council SA’s Quitskills Training program as one of the key factors driving down the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates.The Kungarakan Elder said the tobacco control conference included people working in mainstream and Indigenous tobacco control.

Reduction of smoking prevalence in the total Australian population

The article mentioned that the indigenous had a good representation from Australia, Maori along with other Pacific Islands. In the present year, there was a strong Indigenous focus in addition to the various topics covering from the top end down to the grass roots and positive community campaigns. It was also mentioned that it was encouraging to see numerous tackling Indigenous smoking teams from across Australia. These people were celebrating during the period when the ABS stats were released. This identified that their work was having a significant impact on the declined rates of smoking  ATI people. The Indigenous Peoples Statement will be shared with health ministers across Oceania to encourage them to maintain and increase efforts to reduce smoking tobacco for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Link to the module

Links can be found with the module 4 that deals with the principles and practices of cultural safety when working in partnership. The topic 2 of the module discusses the reflective practice approach to working in partnership and working cross-culturally. It states that the power of the dominant group is often difficult to appreciate if one is a member of that group but is all too apparent for members of non-dominant or minority groups.

This is particularly applicable when accessing health, education, justice and other services. It expresses that the intensity of the predominant gathering is regularly hard to acknowledge in the event that one is an individual from that gathering yet is very obvious for individuals from non-overwhelming or minority gatherings. This is especially relevant while getting to wellbeing, instruction, equity and different administrations.

Personal reflection

According to my perception the author of the article has been successful in incorporating genuine data that provided evidences regarding the fact that there has been decline in the prevalence of smoking. The author articulated the paper well by including several useful information related to the anti-smoking initiatives like Cancer Council SA’s Quitskills Training program, which was one of the primarily factors that played a role in bringing down the rates of smoking in the ATI people. The report included that the Cancer Council SA’s Quitskills program was developed in 2012 in recognition that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rate was considerably higher than the rest of the Australian population (Morelli, 2017).

Summary and analysis of the key points

This article similarly presented the fact that the number of smokers among the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait islanders has been dropping with most of the people quitting smoking and fewer number of people taking up smoking. The data of the last ten years showed that the ratio of the individuals who were formerly smokers have successfully quit and the rate has elevated from 24% to 37%. The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and governments along with the indigenous families have taken steps in order to emphasise on the ways to controlling smoking. Most outstandingly, in 2009, the past government propelled the four-year A$100.6 million that included Tackling Indigenous Smoking project.

News report revealing a decline in Indigenous Australian smoking rates

However, the rate of smokers among the ATI is as yet 2.6 times that of different Australians. Smoking is assessed to cause one out of five Indigenous deaths and records for one-6th of the wellbeing deficits. The report likewise incorporates the discourse of the working the administrations towards controlling smoking. This demonstrated the greater part of Indigenous smokers, similarly as with smokers in the more extensive network, needs to stop. The reports additionally uncovered that about portion of every day smokers had made a stopped endeavour in the previous year (48%). It also mentioned that smoking was never permitted inside their home (53%). In any case, fewer ATI smokers than every Australian smoker had possessed the capacity to stop for multi month or more (47% versus 63%).

As per the examinations that were directed by the administrations, it was discovered that a greater amount of the smokers for whom the nearby wellbeing administration had devoted tobacco control assets (from any financing source) had endeavoured to stop than of those whose wellbeing administration did not. Higher extents of Indigenous smokers than every Australian smoker reviewed a wellbeing proficient encouraging them to stop in the previous year. The article additionally talked about the value of the venture behind these administrations. It demonstrated that the administrations were working alongside the proceeded with government interest keeping in mind the end goal to handle the Indigenous Smoking project including a tight budgetary condition.

In the end the article effectively featured the indication that the legislature gave some assurance that it will elevate the extensive rundown of exercises that should help more smokers who are Indigenous, to stop. Smokers are as of now being very much boosted by their nearby Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. The staff of the wellbeing administrations can go further, particularly helping smokers to support their quit endeavours for more, certain that their stopping messages will be comprehended and invited.

Link to the module

The links of the article can be seen with the module 3 which discusses the traditional and contemporary indigenous health care knowledge and practices. Topic 1 of the module plays a role in contesting knowledge and negotiated understandings in relation to Indigenous perspectives on health. This theme recognizes that the term ‘culture’ can have a fluctuated and frequently tricky definition. It likewise perceives that there can be distinctive sorts of culture. For instance, we may consider social gatherings and think as far as ‘ethnicity’. However it can be likewise discussed that culture in the feeling of various expert gatherings, i.e. ‘medicinal culture’, or a ‘nursing society’. The second subject of the module manages the socioeconomics and wellbeing profiles of indigenous Australians and related indigenous wellbeing needs.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services role in reducing smoking rates

Personal reflection

This was quite efficiently articulated by the author by incorporating the relevant statistics in the article which showed that the Indigenous families along with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and governments have made attempts to increase attention on controlling smoking. Relevant statistical data was also obtained from the article as was provided by the author on the program of Tackling Indigenous Smoking. The article was also able to provide evidences based difference between the indigenous and the non-indigenous Australians showing that the rate of smoking was higher than in the indigenous Australians than the other Australians (Thomas, 2018).

Summary and analysis of the key points

This main idea of this article revolved around the fact that the discriminatory practice which goes back to the colonial history of Australia are needs to be partly blamed for the prevalence of a comparatively high rate of smoking among Indigenous populations, which was according to a group of academic researchers of the Australian National University. A study carried out by Canberra-based researchers had successfully reported that Australia has made significant progress to reduce the smoking rate on a national basis to one of the lowest levels in the world.  The Indigenous communities still shows higher rates of smoking.

 In accordance to Dr Raymond Lovett and Dr Katy Thurber, there are about 14.5 per cent of the general adult population who still smokes in Australia which is in comparison to 41.4 per cent of Indigenous adults. Dr Lovett told the news organization that Australia’s colonial history explains the higher rate of smoking. He pointed out that tobacco was being used in the recent past mainly around the year 1970, as a payment for labour. Similarly it was also a part of the rations of the mission which were handed out to these individuals. The article also mentioned the changing perceptions of the health care workers who belong to the indigenous community regarding the role that is relevant to the colonial-era practices.

It was noted that most of the older people were indulged in smoking, which was considered to be just a social norm which was followed by most of the people. A lot of it is concerned with the history of tobacco that was present and how it implemented in trading practises and also as a form of currency this it continues to have impact on their community. In south-west Sydney perceptions there had been rapid shift, where it is seen that there are fewer Indigenous young people who are indulging in smoking habit, and many who are trying to quit.

Government initiatives to control smoking among Indigenous Australians

Link to the module

The module 2 reflects on the Impact of historical, social and political processes on the health of Indigenous people in Australia. Links of this module can be perceived with this article presented here. Topic 1 of the module deals with the concepts of colonisation, decolonisation and self-determination and the impact on indigenous peoples’ health. It expresses the impacts of colonization on the indigenous populace which fundamentally includes dispossession, presented infections.

In addition there is loss of customary nourishment sources and ways of life, loss of social union, division of youngsters from their families, lacking and wrong wellbeing, welfare and instruction administrations. The under-resourced networks in light of predominant ideal models of settlement and arranging are also included. These appalling and continuous results of colonization on the wellbeing and prosperity of the Indigenous individuals of Australia have been very much recorded.

Personal reflection

This article reflected an important aspect of the indigenous population that is the colonization of these people. The author very well documented that up to 1970 tobacco was used as the model of payment of labour in addition to it; tobacco was a part of the mission rations. The author also efficiently articulated the changing perception in his authored article. The author mentioned that the Indigenous health workers had agreed with the conclusion drawn by the author that is related to the role of colonial-era practices which in turn is relating to tobacco that effects the higher rate of smoking. The author shared some of their personal experiences through the mention of the fact that the author’s nan also was a social smoker who smoked without knowing the risk factors of smoking (Smiley, 2017).

Summary and analysis of the key points

This article revealed that it was the first time that the rate of smoking among ATI people which has dropped below 40%. One third of those people who previously smoked is seen to have successfully quit, as shown by the collected data. The information originates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and which has discharged its six-yearly National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey on Thursday. The review likewise uncovered imprisonment rates have not enhanced and rates of racial segregation and physical brutality are high. In 2014-15, 39% of Indigenous individuals matured 15 and over smoked day by day, a lessening of 10 rate focuses since 2002.

The extent of youthful Indigenous individuals who smoked dropped from 39% to 31% for those matured 15-24 and from 53% to 45% for 25-34-year-olds. It was expressed by Associate prof David Thomas, who is the leader of the tobacco control program at the Menzies Health explore focus that Aboriginal grown-ups today can expect that their children are more averse to smoke than they were and more averse to endure wellbeing hurts their age will.” The article additionally revealed that Tobacco smoking is evaluated to be the main source of the weight of malady on Indigenous people.

Links with learning modules

While the diminishing has been in all cases, the majority of the decay was seen in non-remote zones, where there had been a little yet “promising” drop of around 3%.Thomas said the reality in excess of 33% of Indigenous individuals who have ever smoked had effectively stopped was huge and indicated it was “not an inconceivable task”. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals are effectively getting to be ex-smokers and in this manner are significantly enhancing their wellbeing results,” he said. “This is something Aboriginal individuals have accomplished.” (Davidson, 2018).

Link to the module

Module 1 discusses the introduction and overview related to exploring the concepts of racism, power and health. The topic 2 of the module dealing with racism, power and authority states that certain discussions about wellbeing and sickness will be predominant at specific focuses in time and the thoughts and practices that establish these talks will convey more weight or authenticity. These predominant talks are the thoughts and practices that are most socially acknowledged as the ‘right’ approach to consider issues, classifications of individuals, social components and practices.

The power or ‘may’ of talk lies in the expert and power that can be practiced when one’s thoughts, qualities and convictions are acknowledged as the ‘right’ method for understanding an issue or circumstance. The talks of science and prescription are exceptionally compelling and are thought about experts in most Western social orders, and the logical learning that supports contemporary solution is essentially a result of its history and social setting.

Personal reflection

This article was well authored and it successfully provided intricate details regarding the data which showed the decline in the smoking rate in the ATI population. The author was also sensitive towards the fact that the rate remains much higher than non-Indigenous Australians and there are high chances that this gap will not close in the recent years. The article included genuine data that was collected from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This has be released as the six-yearly National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey. The survey has revealed that the rates of incarceration have not been improved in addition the rates of racial discrimination and high physical violence. Apart from details of smoking, the author was able to interweave the evidences of racial discrimination in the article.


From the above discussion, it can be deduced that smoking acts as the leading contributor to the increase of burden of disease in the indigenous Australian population, thus generating a substantial gain in health. The data that was collected and perceived from the various reports mentioned in the discussed articles were assessed which successfully showed that there has been a progress in the reduction in the prevalence of smoking. However better data could have been provided for the assessment. The accessible information which is based on the views of the confirmations that demonstrated that Indigenous tobacco consumption has come down to the last phases of the epidemic.

There is a desire to see a relentless decrease in the tobacco-related cardiovascular mortality, and expect that tobacco-related tumour mortality will stay high yet top inside the following decade. This stage requires continuation and augmentation of the suite of complete tobacco decrease projects and approaches to help with quickening decreases in tobacco utilize, adding to wellbeing benefits. Understanding the phase of the Indigenous tobacco pandemic empowers network individuals, researchers and makers of policy to all the more likely interpretation of mortality trends in the short and long term, along with assessment of tobacco control programs and the appraisal of advancement made in diminishing tobacco utilization.


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Davidson, P. M., Jiwa, M., DiGiacomo, M. L., McGrath, S. J., Newton, P. J., Durey, A. J., … & Thompson, S. C. (2013).

Gould, G. S., Bittoun, R., & Clarke, M. J. (2015). A pragmatic guide for smoking cessation counselling and the initiation of nicotine replacement therapy for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers. Journal of Smoking Cessation, 10(2), 96-105.

Gould, G. S., Watt, K., Stevenson, L., McEwen, A., Cadet-James, Y., & Clough, A. R. (2014). Developing anti-tobacco messages for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: evidence from a national cross-sectional survey. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 250. 

Morelli, L. (2017). Smoking decline amongst Indigenous communities encourages youth to butt the bad habit.

Nicholson, A. K., Borland, R., Davey, M. E., Stevens, M., & Thomas, D. P. (2015). Predictors of wanting to quit in a national sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers. The Medical Journal of Australia, 202(10), 26-32. doi: 10.5694/mja15.00199 

Passey, M. E., Sanson-Fisher, R. W., & Stirling, J. M. (2014). Supporting pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to quit smoking: views of antenatal care providers and pregnant Indigenous women. Maternal and child health journal, 18(10), 2293-2299. 

Smiley, S. (2017). Colonial practices implicated in Indigenous smoking rates. 

Thomas, D. (2018). We can cut Indigenous smoking and save lives – here’s how. 

Thomas, D. P., & Stevens, M. (2014). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoke?free homes, 2002 to 2008. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 38(2), 147-153.