Smoking behaviours in a remote Australian Indigenous community: The influence of family and other factors

Vanessa JOHNSTON, David Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Australia, tobacco smoking is more than twice as common among Indigenous people as non-Indigenous people. Some of the highest smoking rates in the country are in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. Owing to this high prevalence, tobacco use today is the single biggest contributing risk factor for excess morbidity and mortality among Indigenous Australians. Despite this, there is a lack of published research which qualitatively explores the social context of Indigenous smoking behaviour or of meanings and perceptions of smoking among Indigenous people. The aim of this study was to understand why Indigenous people start to smoke, the reasons why they persist in smoking and the obstacles and drivers of quitting. We conducted semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 25 Indigenous community members in two remote communities in the Northern Territory and 13 health staff. The results indicate that there is a complex interplay of historical, social, cultural, psychological and physiological factors which influence the smoking behaviours of Indigenous adults in these communities. In particular, the results signal the importance of the family and kin relations in determining smoking behaviours. While most community participants were influenced by family to initiate and continue to smoke, the health and well being of the family was also cited as a key driver of quit attempts. The results highlight the importance of attending to social and cultural context when designing tobacco control programs for this population. Specifically, this research supports the development of family-centred tobacco control interventions alongside wider policy initiatives to counter the normalisation of smoking and assist individuals to quit. � 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1708-1716
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'Smoking behaviours in a remote Australian Indigenous community: The influence of family and other factors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this