• Less Indigenous Australians are smoking, but the gap is still widening (AAP)Source: AAP
Smoking rates have improved for Indigenous Australians, but the overall gap is still widening.
Sophie Verass

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
29 Sep 2016 - 12:37 PM  UPDATED 29 Sep 2016 - 1:54 PM

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has recently found that Australian's smoking behaviours are improving.

While tobacco smoking remains a major cause of many health problems, according to the AIHW's new report, there are positive changes being made in the smoking patterns of citizens. 

The report, Tobacco Indicators: measuring mid-point progress: reporting under the National Tobacco Strategy 2012–2018 measures smoking behaviours in Australia against a range of indicators. It reveals that across most of these indicators, Australia is progressing well.

The number of young people and adults who smoked regularly had a declined by almost a quarter. 

‘Since the baseline report, we’ve seen improvements when it comes to people taking up smoking, with fewer secondary school students and adults trying cigarettes—and those who do, are taking up tobacco smoking at older ages than in the past,’ said AIHW spokesperson, Tim Beard.

‘Our report also shows a significant fall in the number of children and non-smokers who are exposed to tobacco smoke in the home,’ Mr Beard said.

However, some groups were reported to be improving more than others.

Australia's Indigenous population achieved great success in the improvement of tobacco smoking, but not at the rate of non-Indigenous Australia, thus widening the gap between First Peoples and wider Australia. 

" ... Despite the fact that Indigenous smoking rates are improving, they are not improving at the same rate as non-Indigenous Australians, so the gap is widening across a number of indicators,’ Mr Beard said. 

Similar findings were seen for people living in 'Remote' and 'Very Remote' areas, compared to 'Major cities'.

Daily smoking rates significantly improved among people living in the lowest and second-lowest socioeconomic areas, but not at the same rate as those living in the highest socioeconomic area.

The report showed unclear results when it came to quitting, but some positive results were recorded among people who had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime - referred to in the report as ‘ever-smokers’.

‘Since the baseline report, the proportion of adult ever-smokers who have now quit smoking has risen from 47% to 52%.’

In 2013, more than half (52%) of adult ever-smokers had quit smoking (they had not smoked in the last 12 months). This was an increase from 47% in 2010.

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