4727.0.55.001 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13  
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Contents >> Health risk factors >> Tobacco smoking


TOBACCO SMOKING

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Endnote 1), increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, numerous cancers and many other health conditions (Endnote 2). The 2003 Australian Burden of Disease Study estimated that tobacco smoking was the leading cause of burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, responsible for around 12% of the total burden of disease and injury for this population (Endnote 3).

Given the significant negative effects of smoking on health, and the related effects on the health and life expectancy gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people (AIHW 2011), significant investment has been made into the prevention of smoking uptake, as well as encouraging existing smokers to quit.

Tobacco use is of particular concern for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, amongst whom smoking prevalence is significantly higher than in the non-Indigenous population.


RESULTS FROM 2012–13

ln 2012–13, two in five (41%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported smoking on a daily basis. A further 2% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people smoked, but not on a daily basis, around one in five people (20%) were ex-smokers, and 37% had never smoked.

Similar proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females were current daily smokers (43% and 39%, respectively).

While crude smoking rates were lower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females than males in every age group in 2012–13, none of these differences were statistically significant.

CURRENT DAILY SMOKERS BY SEX AND AGE, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2012–13
Graph: Current Daily Smokers by Sex and Age

Daily smoking rates in 2012–13 were significantly higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in remote areas than in non-remote areas (50% compared with 38%). This was mainly due to significantly higher rates of smoking among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas, when compared with the daily smoking rates for young people in non-remote areas.

CURRENT DAILY SMOKERS BY REMOTENESS AND AGE, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
—2012–13

Graph: Current Daily Smokers by Remoteness and Age

CHANGE OVER TIME

In 2012–13, two in five (41%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over smoked on a daily basis, a significant decrease from 49% in 2002. There has been a progressive decrease in daily smoking rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, declining from 49% in 2002 to 45% in 2008, and then to 41% in 2012–13. Despite the decrease in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander daily smokers over this period, health outcomes will continue to reflect the smoking patterns in 2002, as the damage from these high levels of smoking in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will take some time to dissipate.

Between 2002 and 2012–13, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males who were current daily smokers decreased from 51% to 43%. The current daily smoking rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females also decreased over this period to a similar extent, from 47% to 39%. For both males and females, there were statistically significant decreases in the current daily smoking rates in all age groups, apart from the 25–34 year and 45–54 year age groups.

Graph Image for Current Daily Smokers by age, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2002 and 2012-13

Footnote(s): (a) Difference between rate for 2002 and 2012-13 is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2002 NATSISS (cat. no. 4714.0) and 2012-13 AATSIHS (cat. no. 4727.0.55.001)




Consistent with the decreases in current daily smoking rates between 2002 and 2012–13, the proportion of ex-smokers increased from 15% to 21% over this period, and the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who said they had never smoked increased from 33% to 37%. Among young people aged 15–17 years, the proportion who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 77% in 2012–13, and for those aged 18–24 years, increased from 34% to 43% over the same period. This suggests that there has been a progressive decrease in the take-up rate for tobacco smoking among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the last decade.

There have been significant decreases in the daily smoking rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote areas between 2002 and 2008 (from 48% to 43%) and between 2008 and 2012–13 (from 43% to 38%). In remote areas, the proportion of current daily smokers has not changed significantly between the three survey years.

CURRENT DAILY SMOKERS BY REMOTENESS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
—2002 to 2012–13



HOW DO THESE RATES COMPARE WITH THE RATES FOR NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE?

Daily smoking remained more prevalent in 2012–13 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people in every age group. After adjusting for differences in age structure between the two populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were 2.6 times as likely as non-Indigenous people to be current daily smokers.

While the daily smoking rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has decreased over the last decade, the comparable smoking rate in the non-Indigenous population has also fallen. In previous health surveys, smoking data were collected for people aged 18 years and over. Results from these surveys show that the gap between the daily smoking rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and non-Indigenous population was 27 percentage points in 2001 and was 25 percentage points in 2012–13.
ENDNOTES

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare January 2011, Closing the gap clearinghouse: Anti-tobacco programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accessed November 1, 2013
<
http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedFiles/ClosingTheGap/Content/Publications/2011/ctgc-rs04.pdf>

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2005, The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, ABS cat. no. 4704.0, AIHW cat. no. IHW14, AIHW, Canberra.

3. Vos T, Barker B, Stanley L, Lopez AD 2007. The Burden of Disease and Injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2003, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.



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