|Last updated: December 2017
Suggested citation: Greenhalgh, EM, Bayly, M, & Winstanley, MH. 1.9 Prevalence of tobacco use among Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. In Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2017. Available from http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-1-prevalence/1-9-prevalence-of-tobacco-use-among-aboriginal-peo
Note: A brief summary of current prevalence data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is presented in this section. For extended discussion refer to Chapter 8 Tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up 2.8% of the Australian population.1 Tobacco use is widespread among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. In 2014–15, 39% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were daily smokers. Males were more likely than females to be daily smokers (42% compared with 36%), and people in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to smoke on a daily basis (47% compared with 37%). The daily smoking rates decreased by 10 percentage points between 2002 and 2014–15. In 2002, almost half (49%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were daily smokers, with rates declining to 45% in 2008, and to 39% in 2014–15.2
The proportion of children aged 0–14 years who lived in a household in which someone smoked inside the house decreased from 29% in 2004–2005,3 to 13% in 2014–15.2 The substantially higher prevalence of smoking in Australia’s Indigenous population may be attributable to a complex range of interrelated factors. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are by far the most socio-economically disadvantaged sub-group in the Australian population,4 which in itself is a predictor of increased smoking behaviour (see Section 1.7). Additionally, smoking patterns are also likely to reflect cultural aspects particular to this population, including the traditional customs of sharing and kinship bonding.5-7
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2071.0 - census of population and housing: Reflecting Australia - stories from the census, 2016. 2017. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/2071.0~2016~Main%20Features~Aboriginal%20and%20Torres%20Strait%20Islander%20Population%20Data%20Summary~10
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15. 2016. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4714.0
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4715.0 national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey, 2004−05 Canberra: ABS, 2006. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4715.02004-05?OpenDocument.
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4704.0 the health and welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 2010 Canberra: ABS, 2010. Last update: 19 Dec 2012 Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4704.0
5. Lindorff KJ. Tobacco time for action: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tobacco control project final report. Canberra, Australia: National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, 2002.
6. Ivers R. Indigenous tobacco−−a literature review. Darwin: Menzies School of Health Research and the Co-operative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health, 2001. Available from: https://www.lowitja.org.au/sites/default/files/docs/Indigenous_Australians_and_Tobacco.pdf
7. Murphy M and Mee V. Chapter 6: The impact of the National Tobacco Campaign on Indigenous communities: A study in Victoria, in Australia's National Tobacco Campaign: Evaluation report vol.1. Hassard K, Editor Canberra: Department of Health and Aged Care; 1999. Available from: http://webarchive.nla.gov.au/gov/20140801095025/http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-publicat-document-metadata-tobccamp.htm