Indigenous Australians

Smoking rates among Indigenous Australians are close to 39%

We’re working to close the health gap. Tobacco use is a major contributor to the 10-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

In 2014-15, smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over was close to double that of the general population, at approximately 39%. Males were more likely than females to be daily smokers (42% compared with 37%), and people living in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to smoke on a daily basis (47% compared with 37%).

Despite a small reduction in smoking rates related to Indigenous people in recent years, the urgent need for continued focus is evident. Reducing smoking rates is an extremely effective way of improving health outcomes and closing the life expectancy gap.

The Talking about the Smokes Project (2015) found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking and quitting behaviour is similar to other populations and that mainstream tobacco control is working for this population. It also found differences in smoking and quitting behaviour.  The findings support  maintaining an ongoing commitment to a comprehensive approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tobacco control, rather than relying excessively on any single strategy.

World No Tobacco Day 2017 – Professor Tom Calma, AO, National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program

As part of World No Tobacco Day 2017, ACOSH released a series of short videos featuring tobacco control experts. Professor Tom Calma AO, National Coordinator for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Programme (TIS),  talks about how World No Tobacco Day is the perfect opportunity to take the first step in giving up the smokes. Professor Calma advises his peoples to give up for you, for health, for family and for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the oldest culture in the World. He also identifies the danger of secondhand smoke and the services available to help quit such as the Tackling Indigenous Smoking workers, your GP and the Quitline.

Do you need help?

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australian (AHCWA) is the peak body for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) around WA. The ACCHS are individual Aboriginal Medical Health Services that are run by local Aboriginal people and their communities to manage their own health and well-being in accordance with protocols and procedures determined by their community members.

The following Aboriginal Medial Services have highly skilled Tackling Indigenous Smoking teams that are able to provide culturally appropriate assistance to quit smoking:

New ‘Follow the path to a healthy body’ Aboriginal specific resources that link tobacco, cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes for community members and health professionals are now available. Download the following links:

  1. Booklet for health professionals
  2. Brochure for community members
  3. Poster for community members

ACOSH ‘Mary G’ Campaign

Radio gets into homes and communities in a way that posters and brochures never can. ACOSH commissioned ‘Mary G’ to record six radio information spots warning women of the dangers of smoking while pregnant. Both controversial and humorous, Mary G is well known across Australia through her weekly radio show and live performances. The radio spots were sent to 162 Indigenous radio stations across Australia and to all Indigenous health services with supporting information.

Listen to the radio spots:

For permission to use please email 

The stats


of Indigenous people aged 15 and over smoked daily

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014-15