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Income helps Indigenous Aussies Quit Smoking


Media embargo – 11 April 2008

Improved socio-economic status can help Indigenous Australians quit smoking

As Indigenous household income and other socio-economic factors improve, so does their likelihood of not smoking.

This was a finding of a study published in the April issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, led by Dr David Thomas from the Menzies School of Health Research.

“The poorest and the most socially disadvantaged are the least likely to be non-smokers,” Dr Thomas said.

Higher income, better education, employment, owning a house and having access to a motor vehicle and a computer were all strongly associated with being a non-smoker.

The study found that one in two Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander adults smoked, one third had never smoked, and one in six were ex-smokers.

“Indigenous people who had been arrested in the past five years were 4.5 times less likely to be non-smokers,” Dr Thomas said.

“Indigenous people who had not been removed from their natural family were twice as likely to be a non-smokers, to never have smoked or to have quit.”

Some other variables influencing smoking behaviour were involvement in social and sporting activities, volunteerism, alcohol consumption, exposure to physical violence, the number of dependents and language skills.

“Indigenous tobacco control programs need to consider additional targeting of more disadvantaged groups and work with broader campaigns to improve social disadvantage among Indigenous peoples.”


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