Tackling Indigenous Smoking program extended

Amanda Lyons

15/02/2018 1:44:26 PM

Falling smoking rates are good news in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – but there is more work to be done.

News teaser
Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt hopes extending the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program will help maintain its positive momentum. Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS), which was launched as a three-year program in 2015, will be extended for an additional four years starting from 1 July with a $183.7 million commitment from the Federal Government.
‘This investment in the TIS program highlights our long-term commitment to closing the gap in health inequality,’ Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt said. 
There have been positive trends in smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the past 20 years. While 55% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 18 and older were smokers in 1994–95, that number dropped to 45% by 2014–15. Encouragingly, the highest rate of reduction has been observed in the younger age groups.
The fall in smoking rates is a substantial victory in Aboriginal and Torres Islander health.
‘We estimate that there are 35,000 fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders daily smokers today than there would have been if things had stayed the same since 2004,’ Associate Professor Ray Lovett, from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, told newsGP. This will lead to thousands of lives saved and is a big win for population health. We need to continue the effort.’
Part of the reason it is important to maintain this momentum is that there is still much more work to do in the area of smoking in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. There remains a substantial gap in smoking rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians – 45% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population were smokers in 2014–15, compared to 16% of the non-Indigenous population. Smoking accounts for more than 12% of the overall burden of illness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
While these numbers are daunting, Associate Professor Lovett believes this situation represents substantial potential for health gain.
‘We are already seeing reductions in premature deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, and it is likely that recent declines in smoking are contributing to this positive trend,’ he said. ‘We know from other populations that smoking rates decline slowly over time and with continued effort, so all the gains are important and will have an impact.’
Associate Professor Lovett is supportive of expanding the TIS program, and is hopeful it can contribute towards the Closing the Gap campaign’s health outcome goals.
‘Our hope is that local health services and organisations will be supported to build on the success of their earlier work, and that the TIS program will be extended to services and areas that are currently not funded,’ he said.
Minister Wyatt’s comments on the TIS extension suggest a similar vision.
‘Extending the TIS program will help secure multiple local programs for the longer term, plus identify and support expansion of new approaches in priority areas,’ he said. 
‘It is imperative we maintain the momentum.’

Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-health Tackling-Indigenous-Smoking

Susan Mclean   28/01/2019 12:25:16 PM

I had recently quit smoking for 3 months. I thought I had succeeded in quitting. Death of someone close caused a lot of anxiety and depression. I have been smoking again for 6 months. I really need to quit right now as bad health has made life even harder


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