Smoke-free homes and workplaces of a national sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

David P Thomas, Kathryn S Panaretto, Matthew Stevens, Pele T Bennet and Ron Borland
Med J Aust 2015; 202 (10 Suppl): S33-S38. || doi: 10.5694/mja14.00876


Objective: To examine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's protection from second-hand smoke at home and work.

Design, setting and participants: The Talking About The Smokes project surveyed 2522 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from communities served by 34 Aboriginal community-controlled health services and one community in the Torres Strait, using quota sampling, from April 2012 to October 2013. We made comparisons with data from Australian smokers in the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project), collected from either July 2010 to May 2011 or September 2011 to February 2012.

Main outcome measures: Whether smoking was not allowed anywhere in the home, or not allowed in any indoor area at work.

Results: More than half (56%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers and 80% of non-smokers reported that smoking was never allowed anywhere in their home. Similar percentages of daily smokers in our sample and the Australian ITC Project data reported bans. Most employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander daily smokers (88%) reported that smoking was not allowed in any indoor area at work, similar to the Australian ITC Project estimate. Smokers working in smoke-free workplaces were more likely to have smoke-free homes than those in workplaces where smoking was allowed indoors (odds ratio, 2.85; 95% CI, 1.67–4.87). Smokers who lived in smoke-free homes were more likely to have made a quit attempt in the past year, to want to quit, and to have made quit attempts of 1 month or longer.

Conclusion: Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are protected from second-hand smoke at work, and similar proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers and other Australian smokers do not allow smoking inside their homes.

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • David P Thomas1
  • Kathryn S Panaretto2
  • Matthew Stevens1
  • Pele T Bennet3
  • Ron Borland4

  • 1 Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, NT.
  • 2 University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA.
  • 3 Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 4 Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC.


The full list of acknowledgements is available in Appendix 2.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Oberg M, Jaakkola MS, Woodward A, et al. Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries. Lancet 2011; 377: 139-146.
  • 2. World Health Organization. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Geneva: WHO, 2003. (accessed Dec 2014).
  • 3. Barnsley K, Freeman B (updated by Tumini V, Purcell K). Smokefree environments. In: Scollo MM, Winstanley MH, editors. Tobacco in Australia: facts and issues. 4th ed. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria, 2012. (accessed Apr 2015).
  • 4. International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project. Smoke-free policies: ITC cross-country comparison report. Waterloo, Canada: University of Waterloo, 2012. (accessed Apr 2015).
  • 5. Thomas DP, Stevens M. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoke-free homes, 2002 to 2008. Aust N Z J Public Health 2014; 38: 147-153.
  • 6. International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC handbooks of cancer prevention: tobacco control. Volume 13. Evaluating the effectiveness of smoke-free policies. Lyon: IARC, 2009.
  • 7. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: updated results, 2012–13. Canberra: ABS, 2014. (ABS Cat. No. 4727.0.55.006.)
  • 8. Thomas DP, Briggs VL, Couzos S, et al. Research methods of Talking About The Smokes: an International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project study with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Med J Aust 2015; 202 (10 Suppl): S5-S12. <MJA full text>
  • 9. Couzos S, Nicholson AK, Hunt JM, et al. Talking About The Smokes: a large-scale, community-based participatory research project. Med J Aust 2015; 202 (10 Suppl): S13-S19. <MJA full text>
  • 10. International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project. Surveys. (accessed May 2014).
  • 11. StataCorp. Stata survey data reference manual: release 13. College Station, Tex: Stata Press, 2013. (accessed Sep 2014).
  • 12. Borland R, Yong HH, Cummings KM, et al. Determinants and consequences of smoke-free homes: findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. Tob Control 2006; 15 Suppl 3: iii42-iii50.
  • 13. Johnston V, Thomas DP, McDonnell J, Andrews RM. Maternal smoking and smoking in the household during pregnancy and postpartum: findings from an Indigenous cohort in the Northern Territory. Med J Aust 2011; 194: 556-559. <MJA full text>
  • 14. Thomson G, Wilson N, Howden-Chapman P. Population level policy options for increasing the prevalence of smokefree homes. J Epidemiol Community Health 2006; 60: 298-304.
  • 15. Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs. National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018. Canberra: Australian Government, 2012. (accessed Apr 2015).
  • 16. Northern Territory Department of Health. Quitline. Quit resources & campaigns: television commercials. (accessed Mar 2014).
  • 17. Priest N, Roseby R, Waters E, et al. Family and carer smoking control programmes for reducing children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008; (4): CD001746.
  • 18. Johnston V, Thomas DP. Smoking behaviours in a remote Australian Indigenous community: the influence of family and other factors. Soc Sci Med 2008; 67: 1708-1716.
  • 19. Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Hovell MF, et al. Households contaminated by environmental tobacco smoke: sources of infant exposures. Tob Control 2004; 13: 29-37.
  • 20. Rumchev K, Jamrozik K, Stick S, Spickett J. How free of tobacco smoke are ‘smoke-free' homes? Indoor Air 2008; 18: 202-208.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.