4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/02/2011  Final
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Contents >> Adult health >> Mothers' and children's health >> Children and passive smoking

This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.


The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 014 years who lived in a household where members usually smoked inside the house decreased from 29% in 200405, to 21% in 2008.

Children's health can be affected by exposure to tobacco smoke, especially when it occurs indoors. Passive smoking increases the risk of ear infections and asthma. Evidence also suggests that parental smoking may lead to an increased risk of allergic respiratory diseases (Endnote 1). For babies, passive smoking is one of the significant risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (Endnote 2).

This topic presents results from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) which provides the most recent data for tobacco smoking.

Nationally in 2008, 63% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 014 years lived in a household with members who were current daily smokers (72% in remote and 61% in non-remote). While there has not been any real change in the proportions of children living in households with smokers, fewer children are living in households with indoor smokers. In 2008, 21% of children 0–14 years, and 16% of infants aged 0–3 years lived in households with indoor smokers, down from 29% and 24% respectively in 2004–05. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were three times as likely to be living in households with a current daily smoker who smoked at home indoors as non-Indigenous children (21% compared with 7%), a reflection of the higher rates of smoking in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population overall.

5.1 WHETHER LIVES WITH CURRENT DAILY SMOKER(S), children aged 0–14 years—2008


Current daily smoker(s) in household
Smokes at home indoors
Does not smoke at home indoors
No current daily smoker(s) in household

(a) Includes children in households in which the smoker status of the resident was current but not daily, or nor stated.
Source: 2008 National Abooriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2007–08 National Health Survey. These estimates are also available for download in the Mothers' and children's health datacube.


1. Keil, T., and Kulig, M. 2009, Editorial, Pediatric Health, Volume 3, Number 3, pp 203–204.

2. Machaalani, R., and Waters, K. A. 2008, 'Neuronal cell death in the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome brainstem and associations with risk factors', Brain a Journal of Neurology , Oxford University Press, <www.brain.oxfordjournals.org>

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