4727.0.55.006 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Updated Results, 2012–13  
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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.

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

In 2012–13, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were daily smokers was higher in remote areas than in non-remote areas (50% compared with 39%). This pattern was evident for all age groups, however the differences for older age groups were not statistically significant.

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


In 2012–13, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were daily smokers was smallest in the Australian Capital Territory (28%) and largest in the Northern Territory (51%). These were the only two jurisdictions with daily smoking rates that were significantly different from the national average for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (42%).

CURRENT DAILY SMOKERS(a) BY STATE/TERRITORY, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2012–13
Graph: Current Daily Smokers by State/Territory


CHANGE OVER TIME

In 2012–13, two in five (42%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were daily smokers, a significant decrease from 49% in 2002. There have been progressive decreases in daily smoking rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, declining from 49% in 2002 to 45% in 2008, and then to 42% in 2012–13.

Between 2002 and 2012–13, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females who were current daily smokers both decreased by seven percentage points. The daily smoking rate for males fell from 51% to 44%, while for females, the rate declined from 47% to 40%.

Between 2002 and 2012–13, there were statistically significant decreases in the current daily smoking rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–17, 18–24 and 35–44 years.


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 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey and 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey


Consistent with the decreases in current daily smoking rates between 2002 and 2012–13, the proportion of ex-smokers increased from 15% to 20%, and the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who said they had never smoked increased from 33% to 36%. 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 42% over the same period. This suggests that over the last decade there has been a progressive decrease in the proportion of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have started to smoke.

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 39%). In remote areas, the proportion of current daily smokers did not change significantly between the three survey years.

CURRENT DAILY SMOKERS BY REMOTENESS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2002 to 2012–13
Graph: Current Daily Smokers by Remoteness

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.

Graph Image for Current Daily Smokers, by Indigenous status and age, 2012-13

Source(s): 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2011-12 Australian Health Survey

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 26 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.