“Cancer has been largely overlooked amongst Indigenous populations world-wide and remains the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “
Professor Gail Garvey, who convened the first WICC and is co-chair of WICC 2019 :Pictured above with Professor Tom Calma and Blackfoot Fancy Feather Dancer Kyle Agapi.
“Smoking is the single biggest contributor to early deaths, including cancer deaths, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – which is why it is so important that we encourage people not to take up smoking and assist smokers to stop “
Professor Tom Calma AO, National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, and member of the Cancer Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Leadership Group
Indigenous communities, consumers and health experts from around the world have come together at the opening of the second World Indigenous Cancer Conference (WICC) at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre in Canada.
The conference, which has drawn a large contingent of Australian delegates, follows on from the success of the inaugural WICC held in Brisbane, Australia in 2016.
The WICC 2019 theme is ‘Respect, Reconciliation and Reciprocity,’ with over 400 delegates from across the globe discussing cancer and its impact on Indigenous peoples.
World-wide, Indigenous peoples bear a disproportionately higher cancer burden than non-Indigenous peoples, which makes WICC 2019 so very important.
The amazing Melissa Jim talking now at #WICC2019 about the Indian Health Services and cancer data and surveillance for American Indian and Alaska Native people. Linkage (NPCR & SEER) used to improve the accuracy/completion of identification information. pic.twitter.com/w1S4RtYMjt
Hosted by the Canadian Indigenous Research Network Against Cancer (CIRNAC) in partnership with the host sponsor Alberta Health Services, this premier event is supported by the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization.
Professor Gail Garvey , Blackfoot Piikani Chief Stan Grier and Professor Tom Calma
WICC 2019 has drawn expertise of leading cancer researchers, public health practitioners, clinicians, advocacy groups, Indigenous community leaders and consumers.
They are coming together to share knowledge about critical issues across the cancer continuum from prevention and treatment to survivorship and end of life.
Several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates with a lived experience of cancer are making an important contribution to the conference.
Des McGrady, an Aboriginal cancer survivor, said “An international meeting is important for the information sharing that we can pass on to community and people working in this space. This will allow us to work in partnership to drive positive change.”
The burden of cancer among Indigenous populations is of major public health importance and forums for collaboration such as this conference will strengthen research and service delivery and help accelerate progress in improving cancer outcomes.
Indigenous leadership, culturally sound service delivery and encouragement of mainstream services to prioritise Indigenous cancer are critical to these efforts and central to WICC 2019.
“ Preventive health measures reduce the rate of chronic ill health and improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians, leading to better and healthier lives.
As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – around two per cent of the overall health budget.
A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.
The Australian Government must commit adequate resources to its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, and work with GPs to help improve the health of all Australians.
AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, who addressed the National Press Club as part of Family Doctor Week, said the AMA is looking forward to working on the strategy, which Health Minister, Greg Hunt, first announced in a video message to the AMA National Conference in May.
” The Northern Territory Government has been judged to have been the worst-performing Australian government on tobacco control measures over the last 12 months, and shamed with the Dirty Ashtray Award for 2019.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the National Tobacco Control Scoreboard – run by the AMA and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) – and the Northern Territory has managed to collect the dubious Dirty Ashtray Award 13 times.”
SEE Part 2 below NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL SCOREBOARD 2019
Part 1 AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone Prevention Press Release
“Family doctors – GPs – are best placed to manage preventive health, and can assist their patients in managing issues such as weight, alcohol consumption, physical activity, stress, substance use, and quitting smoking.
“Managing weight is a vital part of preventive health. Carrying excess weight contributes to cancers, high blood pressure, and musculoskeletal disorders like bad backs and neck pain. It also affects general health and wellbeing.
“Too many Australians drink at harmful levels, and this is dangerous to their health. Drinking in moderation, and within the guidelines, is a message all Australians should be aware of, and if you are worried about alcohol consumption, talk to your GP.
“Tobacco kills. There is no way to sugar coat the dangers of smoking. If you smoke, you increase your risk of coronary heart disease and cancer.
“Smoking can cause cancer of the lung, oesophagus, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum.
“If you want to quit smoking, start by seeing your family doctor.”
Dr Bartone will also announced the recipient of the 2019 Dirty Ashtray Award, which is presented to the government – Federal, State, or Territory – that has done the least over the past year to combat smoking.
AMA Family Doctor Week runs from 21 to 27 July 2019.
In 2017-18, two-thirds of Australian adults and almost one-quarter of Australian children were overweight or obese.
Coronary heart disease is the nation’s leading single cause of death.
It is estimated that more than 1.2 million Australians have diabetes. The majority (85 per cent) have type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.
In 2013, diabetes contributed to 10 per cent of all deaths in Australia.
Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer in Australia.
In 2014-15, more than 1.6 million Australian males aged 15 years and over smoked, 90 per cent of whom smoked daily.
More than 1.2 million Australian females aged 15 years and over smoked, 91 per cent of whom smoked daily.
About one in 10 mothers smoked in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In 2016, 57 per cent of daily smokers were aged over 40, and 20 per cent of daily smokers lived in remote and very remote areas of Australia.
Daily tobacco smoking has been trending downward since 1991, from 24 per cent to 12 per cent in 2016.
The proportion of people choosing never to take up smoking has increased to 62 per cent in 2016, from 51 per cent in 2001.
In 2016, almost one in three (31 per cent) current smokers aged 14 and over have used e-cigarettes.
Of current smokers in secondary school aged 16-17, more than one-quarter (26 per cent) smoked daily.
Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Heart Foundation.
Australia invests less than 2% of $170B health spend on prevention.#Health prevention saves lives. It can save money.
The Northern Territory Government has been judged to have been the worst-performing Australian government on tobacco control measures over the last 12 months, and shamed with the Dirty Ashtray Award for 2019.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the National Tobacco Control Scoreboard – run by the AMA and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) – and the Northern Territory has managed to collect the dubious Dirty Ashtray Award 13 times.
In contrast, the Queensland Government has achieved a remarkable hat trick by topping the scoring to win the coveted National Tobacco Control Scoreboard Achievement Award for leading the nation in tobacco control measures.
AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, today released the results of the AMA/Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) National Tobacco Control Scoreboard 2019 at the National Press Club in Canberra.
Dr Bartone congratulated Queensland on its strong consistent record in stopping people from smoking, and urged the Northern Territory to build momentum with its efforts on tobacco control, while noting the NT Government had amended and strengthened its tobacco control legislation earlier this year.
“The Queensland Government has continued to protect its community from second-hand smoke in a range of outdoor public areas including public transport, outdoor shopping malls, and sports and recreation facilities,” Dr Bartone said.
“Queensland Health is well ahead of other health services in recording smoking status, delivering brief intervention, and referring patients to evidence-based smoking cessation support such as Quitline.
“The Making Tracks – toward closing the gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Queenslanders by 2033 – Policy and Accountability Framework indicates a commitment to reducing smoking among Indigenous communities.
“Funding continues for the B.Strong Brief Intervention training program to strengthen primary healthcare services for Indigenous smokers by increasing the brief intervention skills of health professionals, access to culturally effective resources, and referral to Quitline.
“A dedicated smoking cessation website – QuitHQ – has been developed for the Queensland community, which includes quit support, information for health professionals, and smoking laws. Promotion of QuitHQ includes on-line messages and billboards.”
Dr Bartone said that the Northern Territory is showing signs of moving ahead with stronger tobacco control programs, but we are yet to see solid action and proper funding.
“The NT Government has published a new Tobacco Action Plan 2019-2023 stressing the need for media campaigns, smoke-free spaces, sustaining quit attempts and preventing relapse, and identifying priority populations,” Dr Bartone said.
“But these good intentions are yet to be backed with the necessary funding.”
Dr Bartone said the AMA would like to see the Federal Government take on a greater leadership role to drive stronger nationally coordinated tobacco control to stop people smoking and stop people taking up the killer habit.
“The Federal Government has not run a major, national media campaign against smoking since 2012-13, when plain packaging was introduced,” Dr Bartone said.
“Nor has it implemented any further product regulation or constraints on tobacco marketing in that time.
“We would like to see the National Tobacco Campaign reinstated with additional and sustained funding.
“The $20 million announced during the Federal election health debate is a welcome start, but falls well short of the $40 million a year that is needed for a sustained public education program.
“That is a mere 0.24 per cent of the $17 billion the Government expects to reap from tobacco taxes in 2019-20.
“The Government should also implement a systemic approach to providing support for all smokers to quit when they come into contact with health services.
“These key ingredients should be part of the Minister’s commitment, first announced at the AMA National Conference in May, to develop a National Preventive Health Strategy in consultation with the AMA and other health and medical bodies.
“Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia, causing 19,000 premature deaths each year.
“Two-thirds of all current Australian smokers are likely to be killed by their smoking. That is a staggering 1.8 million people.
“While Australia is a world leader in tobacco control, more needs to be done to help people quit smoking, or not take it up in the first place.
“Big Tobacco is attempting to distract attention from evidence-based measures that will reduce smoking, while promoting itself as being concerned about health.
“This is particularly outrageous from an industry whose products kill more than seven million people each year.
“It is crucial that Australia maintains its strong evidence-based policies and avoids being diverted by Big Tobacco’s new distraction strategies, particularly following disturbing evidence from the US and Canada about the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.
“We must remain vigilant against any attempts to normalise smoking, or make it appealing to young people.
“This includes following the advice of the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Therapeutic Goods Administration in regulating e-cigarettes, and not allowing them to be marketed as quit smoking aids until such time as there is scientific evidence that they are safe and effective.”
The AMA/ACOSH National Tobacco Control Scoreboard is compiled annually to measure performance in combating smoking.
Judges from the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH), the Cancer Councils, and the National Heart Foundation allocate points to the State, Territory, and Australian Governments in various categories, including legislation, to track how effective each has been at combating smoking in the previous 12 months.
No jurisdiction received an A or B rating this year or last year.
AMA/ACOSH Award – Judges’ Comments
This year is the Silver Anniversary of the AMA/ACOSH National Tobacco Control Scoreboard.
Since the introduction of the Award in 1994, daily smoking in Australia has halved from 26.1% in 1993 to 12.8% in 2016.
Importantly, the proportion of 12 to 17-year-old school students who have never smoked in their life has increased significantly from 33% in 1984 to 82% in 2017.
Australia has led the world in its implementation of a comprehensive approach to reduce smoking.
Since the early 1990s, Australia has implemented the following strategies to reduce smoking, many of which have been duplicated in other countries around the globe:
We call on the Australian, State and Territory Governments to implement the following recommendations:
allocate adequate funding from tobacco revenue (predicted to be $17 billion in 2019/2020) to ensure strong media campaigns at evidence-based levels;
ban all remaining forms of tobacco marketing and promotion and legislate to keep up with innovative tobacco industry strategies;
implement tobacco product regulation to decrease the palatability and appeal of tobacco products;
implement comprehensive action, including legislation, in line with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect public health policy from direct and indirect tobacco industry interference, and ban tobacco industry political donations;
implement positive retail licensing schemes for all jurisdictions;
implement best practice support for smoking cessation across all health care settings;
ensure consistent funding for programs that will decrease smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other groups with a high prevalence of smoking; and
ensure further protection for the community from the harms of second-hand smoke.
” Obesity is now a leading preventable cause of cancer , but less than half of all Australians are aware of the link . A new campaign launched today by Cancer Council Victoria is aiming to change this.
In a ground-breaking new public awareness campaign, Cancer Council Victoria will expose the link between obesity and 13 types of cancer by depicting the toxic fat around internal organs.
As many as 98% of Australians are aware that obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but as little as 40% of Australians know about its link with cancer . ”
” You wouldn’t put this much sugar in a tea or coffee? But if you’re drinking one soft drink a day, over 20 years – that’s 73,000 teaspoons.”
Dr Gihan Jayaweera
“A third of Victorians admit to drinking more than a litre of sugary drink each week 7, that’s more than 5.5kgs of sugar a year. We want people to realise that they could be drinking their way towards weight gain, obesity and toxic fat, increasing their risk of 13 types of cancer,”
Dr Ahmad Aly
” 69% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considered overweight (29%) or obese (40%); among children this is 30% (20% overweight, 10% obese) “
Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper, acknowledged that the campaign’s portrayal of toxic fat could be confronting but said so was the fact that nearly two-thirds of Australians were overweight or obese 4.
“While talking about weight is a sensitive issue, we can’t shy away from the risk being above a healthy weight poses to our health.” Mr Harper said.
“With around 3,900 cancers in Australia each year linked to being above a healthy weight, it’s vital that we work hard to help people understand the link and encourage them to take steps to reduce their risk 5.”
Sugary drinks contribute the most added sugar to Australians’ diets 6, so Cancer Council Victoria is focusing on how these beverages can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which can increase the risk of certain cancers. The campaign will communicate that one way of reducing the risk is to cut sugary drinks from your diet.
The ad features Melbourne surgeon Dr Ahmad Aly exposing in graphic detail what sugary drinks could be doing to your health, as his laparoscopic camera delves inside a patient’s body to expose the dangerous toxic fat around internal organs.
Dr Aly has seen first-hand the impact toxic fat has on people’s health and hopes the campaign will make people think again before reaching for sugary drinks.
Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said that while the campaign aims to get people thinking about their own habits, Cancer Council Victoria and partner organisations are also working to encourage governments, the food industry, and communities to make changes.
“It’s virtually impossible to escape the enormous amount of marketing for sugary drinks surrounding us on TV, social media and public transport. It’s also easier to get a sugary drink than it is to find a water fountain in many public places, and that’s got to change. We need to take sugary drinks out of schools, recreation and healthcare settings to make it easier for Victorians to make healthy choices.”
“The need for a healthy weight strategy in Victoria, as well as nationally, is overdue. In the same way tobacco reforms have saved lives, we now need to apply the same approach to improving diets”, Ms Martin said.
Case study: Fiona Humphreys
Since giving up the sweet stuff, Fiona Humphreys has more energy and has managed to shed the kilos and keep them off.
“I used to drink at least two sugary drinks every day as a pick me up, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I was addicted to the sugar rush and thought I needed them to get through my busy day.”
“After giving up sugary drinks I saw an immediate change in both my mood and my waistline. I lost 7 kilos just by making that one simple change and I haven’t looked back.”
“I decided to go cold turkey and switched to soda or mineral water with a slice of lime or lemon. I tricked my mind to enjoy the bubbles and put it into a beautiful glass. I feel healthier and my mind is clearer as a result.”
The campaign will run for five weeks and be shown on TV and radio and will feature across social media channels as well as outdoors across the state.
A dedicated campaign website cancervic.org.au/healthyweight will provide factsheets for health professionals and consumers and digital elements about how to make small lifestyle changes to improve people’s health.
Top tips to avoid sugary drinks
Avoid going down the soft drink aisle at the supermarket and beware of the specials at the checkout and service stations.
If you’re eating out, don’t go with the default soft drink – see what other options there are, or just ask for water.
Carry a water bottle, so you don’t have to buy a drink if you’re thirsty.
Herbal teas, sparkling water, home-made smoothies or fruit infused water are simple alternatives that still taste great.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate which provides energy to the body. However, eating too much sugar over time can lead to weight gain. Strong evidence shows that being above a healthy weight increases the risk of developing 13 different types of cancer and chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Let’s unpack what happens when our body receives more energy than it needs, how this can lead to weight gain and what you can do to decrease your risk of cancer.
Where do we find sugar?
In terms of health risks, we need to be concerned about ‘added sugar’. That is, sugar that has been added to food or drink.
Natural sugars in foods
Fruit and milk products
High in nutrients – vitamins, minerals, fibre or calcium.
We should eat these foods every day.
Sugar added to food
These foods are unhealthy and high in energy (kJ).
They don’t have other nutrients we need such as fibre, vitamins and minerals.
We should limit these foods.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities tend to have higher rates of obesity and sugary drink consumption and experience poorer health outcomes as a result.
We know that more than half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community drink sugary drinks almost every day.
dietary risks contribute 9.7% to the total burden of disease for Aboriginal people
69% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considered overweight (29%) or obese (40%); among children this is 30% (20% overweight, 10% obese)
54% of Indigenous Australians meet the daily recommended serves of fruit; only 8% meet the daily recommended serves of vegetables
both measures are lower in remote communities compared with urban areas and intake is far more likely to be inadequate among the unemployed and those who did not finish school
on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consume 41% of their daily energy in the form of discretionary foods — 8.8% as cereal-based products (cakes, biscuits & pastries) and 6.9% as non-alcoholic beverages (soft drinks)
average daily sugar consumption is 111g — two-thirds (or the equivalent of 18tsp of white sugar) of which are free sugars from discretionary foods and beverages
22% of Aboriginal people reported running out of food and being unable to afford more in the past 12 months; 7% said they had run out and gone hungry — both were more prevalent in remote areas
In the latest issue of JournalWatch, Dr Melissa Stoneham takes a look at obesity in Australia’s remote Indigenous communities and the struggle to eat well against the odds
Babies of teenage mothers are more likely to be premature and experience health issues in the first month than babies born to women just a few years older, a new report has revealed.
Teenage mums are also more likely to live in Australia’s lowest socio-economic areas (42 per cent) compared to mums aged 20-24 years (34 per cent), according to the report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, published today , showed the numbers of teenage mothers had dropped from 11800 in 2005 to 8200 in 2015, with nearly three-quarters of teenage mothers aged 18 or 19.
Compared to babies born to mothers aged 20-24 years, more babies born to teenage mothers were premature, had a low birth weight and needed admission to special care nursery.
Despite the negative outcomes for babies, the report showed positive trends for teenage mothers including more spontaneous labours, lower caesarean section rates and less diabetes for teenage mothers.
“The difference between teenage mothers and those in the slightly older age group is due in part to a large number of teenage mothers living in low socio-economic areas,” says AIHW report author Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.
Dr Al-Yaman said the differences could also be due to the higher smoking rates in pregnancy, with a quarter of teenage mothers smoking after 20 weeks of pregnancy compared to 1 in six of those aged 20 to 24.
A quarter of teenage mothers identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, with Indigenous teenage mothers almost twice as likely to smoke during pregnancy as non-Indigenous mothers.
Dr Al-Yaman said risk factors were highly interlinked, with issues such a smoking, low levels of education and employment being concentrated in remote areas.
The teenage birth rate in metro areas is less than half that of regional areas, she said.
“There is a strong link between socio-economic disadvantage and living in remote areas,” she told AAP.
“You need to have access to transport, access to health services and if you have to pay for your transport, sometimes over an hour’s worth, it’s going to take more of your welfare money.”
SISTAQUIT Trial Recruiting Services Now
The SISTAQUIT™ trial aims to improve health providers’ skills and when offering smoking cessation care to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Pregnancy is an important window of opportunity for GPs and health providers to help smokers quit, however they often lack the confidence and skills to address their patients’ smoking.
This intervention provides webinar-based training in evidence based and culturally competent smoking cessation care for providers working within Aboriginal Medical and Health Services.
The SISTAQUIT™ Team are currently recruiting Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) and GP practices in NSW, WA, QLD, SA and NT for this study.
To find out more about your service being involved in the SISTAQUIT™ trial please contact Dr Gillian Gould or Joley Manton at the University of Newcastle.
Indigenous teenage mothers are over-represented One in 4 (24%) teenage mothers identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2015.
This means that Indigenous women were over-represented amongst teenage mothers, given Indigenous women aged 15–19 account for only 5.3% of the overall population of Australian females of the same age.
Indigenous mothers are younger than average
The average age of Indigenous teenage mothers (17.8 years) was lower than for non- Indigenous mothers (18.1 years). Indigenous teenage mothers were 4.5 times as likely to be aged under 15 (1.8%; 35) as non-Indigenous teenage mothers (0.4%; 27) and less likely to be aged 19 (37.4%; 744 compared with 49.1%; 3,048).
More likely to live in remote areas
The proportion of Indigenous mothers in Australia is higher in Remote and Very remote areas, and teenage Indigenous mothers also follow this pattern.
In 2015, the Indigenous population rate for 15–19 year old mothers living in Remote and Very remote areas was 84.9 per 1,000 females, which was 5.5 times the non-Indigenous rate (15.2 per 1,000).
The population rate for 15–19 year old Indigenous mothers was also higher for women living in Major cities at 40.7 per 1,000 for Indigenous women compared with 7.1 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous women.
Fewer and later antenatal visits
Indigenous teenage mothers generally attended fewer antenatal visits than non-Indigenous teenage mothers, with higher proportions of 1 visit (1.5% compared with 0.9%) and 2–4 visits (9.5% compared with 6.1%) and lower proportions of 5 or more visits (86% compared with 91%).
They were 1.1 times as likely to attend their first antenatal visit at 20 weeks gestation or more (25% compared with 23%).
More likely to smoke
Compared to non-Indigenous teenage mothers, Indigenous teenage mothers were:
• 1.5 times as likely to smoke in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy (43% compared with 28%)
• 1.7 times as likely to smoke after 20 weeks (36% compared with 21%).
Higher rates of diabetes
Indigenous teenage mothers were 1.2 times as likely as non-Indigenous teenage mothers to have diabetes (6.0% compared with 4.9%) and gestational diabetes (5.1% compared with 4.2%).
Onset of labour, method of birth and perineal status
In 2015, Indigenous teenage mothers were more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to have spontaneous labour (66% compared with 62%), and less likely to have induced labour (28% compared with 32%), but equally likely to have no labour (both 6.1%).
Compared to non-Indigenous teenage mothers, Indigenous teenage mothers were slightly more likely to:
• have a caesarean section (19% compared with 18%)
• have an intact perineum (27% compared with 26%).
“ The $183.7 million 4 years funding commitment builds on a previous three-year program and forms part of the government’s efforts to progress the Closing the Gap strategy, which is set for a “refresh” after years of disappointing results across education, employment and health
The sickening fact is that, despite considerable progress in recent years, smoking is still responsible for around one in five preventable deaths in Aboriginal people,
It also remains the leading cause of preventable disease, accounting for more than 12 per cent of the overall burden of illness in our Indigenous communities.
The revamped TIS program will:
Continue the successful Regional Tobacco Control grants scheme including school and community education, smoke-free homes and workplaces and quit groups
Expand programs targeting pregnant women and remote area smokers
Enhance the Indigenous quitline service
Support local Indigenous leaders and cultural programs to reduce smoking
Continue evaluation to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of individual programs, including increased regional data collection “
Ahead of the release of the latest Closing the Gap progress report, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said a four-year “Tackling Indigenous Smoking” program will direct money to successful local initiatives to continue to drive down smoking rates.
The Turnbull government has announced more than $180 million for programs to reduce the drastic rates of smoking among Indigenous Australians, with tobacco still a leading cause of death and illness in communities across the country.
The government’s Closing the Gap progress report will be published today, the week after a 10-year review by the Close the Gap campaign criticised the government for “effectively abandoning” the strategy with $530 million in funding cuts put in place under former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Lena-Jean Charles-Loffel, who leads a Victorian Aboriginal Health Service anti-smoking initiative, said the organisation relied on federal funding to deliver its programs.
As part of her work, every Friday at Yappera Children’s Services in Thornbury, Ms Charles Loffell leads sessions that include reading, games and an Aboriginal super hero called Deadly Dan to educate kids on the dangers of smoking.
“It’s important to target the younger generation because they are going to be our best smoke-free ambassadors not just because of the choices they can make when they are older but because they are having an influence on the people around them,” Ms Charles-Loffel said.
She said a recent focus group conducted by her organisation had found families in the local community had gone completely smoke-free because of the influence of their children spreading the word.
Mr Wyatt said the four-year timeframe of the funding allowed organisations to have stability and long-term planning and emphasised that, underneath the mixed national results on Closing the Gap targets, there were successful efforts.
“The challenge when you aggregate to national data is that that is lost. And I would hope that we turn our minds not to the gap but to the effective programs and improved outcomes and build on that,” he said.
Overall, the government’s anti-smoking funding seeks to support education programs, smoking during pregnancy, the especially high rates of smoking in remote areas, the Indigenous quitline service, and local Indigenous cultural programs.
The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows Indigenous smoking rates have dropped an average 2.1 per cent annually since 2008, with particular reductions among young people. Smoking-related heart disease has fallen while lung cancer continues to rise.
This week, the Close the Gap campaign’s scathing review said the Closing the Gap strategy had only been “partially and incoherently” adopted since being established in 2008 and called for national leadership.
Visit the Tackling Indigenous Smoking portal on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet to access resources to help you achieve smoke free workplaces,homes, cars and events:
A paper led by ANU researcher Associate Professor Ray Lovett published in the journal Public Health Research & Practicetoday found a substantial drop in smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the last ten years.
The research highlights the positive downward trends in daily smoking prevalence for young Indigenous people and Indigenous people living in urban areas.
The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (around six in ten) do not smoke daily.
According to the study, the proportion of Indigenous people smoking daily dropped by 9%, from 50% in 2004 to 41% in 2014.
Lovett explains, ‘As a result, there are 35,000 fewer daily smokers today than there would have been if things had stayed the same since 2004. This will lead to thousands of lives saved’.
‘The way we communicate statistics matters. In our work we focus on the progress made within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and we find that substantial progress has been achieved.
In contrast, when reports focus on the gap in smoking prevalence compared to the total Australian population, this can have negative consequences and can actually contribute to widening the gap’, said Lovett.
The team used data from national surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to assess trends in Indigenous smoking over time.
Dr Lovett and his research team are now working with two Aboriginal organisations, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, to better understand how their work contributes to the decline in smoking rates.
The prevalence of daily smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Australia has decreased by 8.6 percentage points (95% CI 5.5, 11.8), from 50.0% in 2004–05 to 41.4% in 2014–15.
This corresponds to an estimated 35 000 fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult daily smokers in 2014–15, compared with if the smoking prevalence had remained stable since 2004–05. Our findings indicate that thousands of premature deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been prevented by the reduction in daily smoking prevalence over the past decade.
Accurately determining the number of deaths averted requires additional data, such as cause-specific mortality. Declines in daily smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were observed among both males and females, and were most evident among those aged 18–44 years, and those living in urban/regional areas.
The absolute decrease in smoking prevalence observed in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is comparable with the decrease of 6.8 percentage points (95% CI 5.6, 7.9) in the total Australian population over the same period, although the base smoking prevalence was substantially lower in the total Australian population (21.3% in 2004–05). These results demonstrate that considerable progress has been made in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the past decade, matching in absolute terms the extent of progress made in the total Australian population.
Given the similar absolute decrease in smoking prevalence in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and total Australian population, the gap in smoking prevalence has remained relatively stable. This may appear inconsistent with the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare’s midterm report for the National Tobacco Strategy 2012–20185, which reported that the gap in smoking between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians had increased between 2008 and 2015.
The discrepancy arises from different methods used to report trends in smoking inequalities.9-11 Our analysis emphasises change in the absolute prevalence of smoking within the population (50.0% – 41.4% = 8.6% absolute prevalence decrease), whereas the midpoint report emphasises smoking prevalence in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population relative to the non-Indigenous population.5
In relative terms, the ratio of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to total Australian smoking prevalence increased from 2.4 (50.0%:21.3%) in 2004–05 to 2.9 (41.4%:14.5%) in 2014–15. This demonstrates that reporting change in absolute versus relative terms can lead to fundamentally different conclusions, which could affect support for programs and policies.9-12
Focusing on relative differences in isolation can obscure progress at the population level; that is, the absolute number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults quitting or not taking up smoking.
Further, research from other populations demonstrates that communicating information about health inequity using a progress frame (as used in this paper) rather than a disparity frame (i.e. focusing on the persisting gap) is associated with more positive emotional responses and increased interest in engaging in health-promoting behaviours.14 Therefore, we consider it ethical to report absolute progress in smoking prevalence.
The ambitious target to halve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult daily smoking prevalence to 23.9% by 20186 will not be achieved if current trends continue. However, this target would be reached within the next two decades if smoking prevalence continues to decrease at the current rate. If the success in smoking reduction observed within the younger age groups and those living in urban/regional areas is echoed in older age groups and in remote areas, this target may be reached earlier.
We observed significant reductions (about 10%) in daily smoking prevalence among the youngest age groups (18–24, 25–34 and 35–44 years). Data from the 2004–05 NATSIHS indicates that two-thirds of current and past Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers had begun smoking by age 1817; therefore, our findings of reduced smoking prevalence among younger adults is promising.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has a younger age profile than the total population, and therefore the potential population-level benefit of reducing smoking among younger adults is important.18
We observed reductions in daily smoking prevalence among male and female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in urban/regional areas. Given that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in urban/regional settings, this is another encouraging finding at the population level.
We did not detect a significant change between 2004–05 and 2014–15 in daily smoking prevalence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in remote areas. The observed stability of smoking prevalence in remote areas from 2004 to 2015 is consistent with trends from 1994 to 2004.7 Despite being the largest available datasets, the number of survey participants in remote areas was relatively small, and is likely to be insufficient to detect changes in prevalence.
Given the enduring high smoking prevalence among older age groups and in remote settings, improved intensive effort will be required to change the normalisation of tobacco use and correct potential misperceptions of tobacco use, particularly as older people may have had longer and more intense exposure to tobacco marketing.19
This includes continued and concerted effort from targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tobacco control programs, in addition to national strategies.4,20
The prevalence of smoking is reduced by increased numbers of people quitting and not taking up smoking. Since 2008, there has been a concerted effort in public health strategies, policies and programs to reduce tobacco smoking in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Australia’s approach to tobacco control is comprehensive, and it is difficult to attribute changes to one program; however, continuing support for both whole-of-population and targeted strategies is required.
For example, recent evidence indicates that the introduction of graphic warning labels on cigarette packages led to increased understanding of and concern about the harms associated with smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people19,21, and research has demonstrated that smokers’ knowledge of the effects of second-hand smoke is associated with desire and attempts to quit.22 Our findings may indicate that programs and policies have been particularly effective at reducing smoking among young people and those living in urban/regional areas. It is more difficult to assess the potential effectiveness of programs and policies in remote settings; finer regional estimates are required to assess policy and program impacts in this setting.23
Strengths and weaknesses
This paper analyses multiple cross-sectional data, which are the most comprehensive data available on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking status. Limitations of our approach include that comparability between survey estimates may be affected by differences in scope, sample design, coverage, and potential changes in the age structure of the population over time. The use of weighting generates estimates that are representative of the in-scope population, which were similarly defined across the four surveys. However, we note that the 2004–05 and 2008 surveys represent a somewhat smaller percentage (82–90%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population compared with the other surveys (95%); this may result from issues related to survey scope.17
We have restricted our analysis to current daily smoking – rather than including weekly or less frequent smoking – to enable consistent measurement across surveys, and to enable direct comparison with national tobacco targets.5,6 It is important to note that our analysis focused on cigarette smoking. Recent ABS surveys provide data on the use of other tobacco products (e.g. chewing tobacco); data on e-cigarette use are not yet available.
Although we include a comparison with daily smoking prevalence in the total Australian population as a benchmark, this article focuses on variation in daily current smoking trends within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. We have presented comparable estimates for the total Australian population, rather than the non-Indigenous Australian population, because of the data that were available, and we may therefore underestimate the gap in prevalence between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations. However, this underestimation is likely to be very small; for example, in 2014, the difference between daily adult smoking prevalence in the non-Indigenous population (14.2%; 95% CI 13.4, 15.0)3 versus the total Australian population (14.5%; 95% CI 13.6, 15.4) was marginal.
Applying a progress frame rather than a disparity frame and reporting absolute changes in smoking prevalence provides clear evidence of the substantial and significant declines in daily smoking prevalence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, which will result in considerable health gain. Particular success has occurred among younger adults and those living in urban/regional areas.
Despite this progress, the smoking prevalence in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population remains high, with an estimated 165 000 current adult daily smokers. It will be critical to learn from the success among younger adults and those in urban areas to effect change among older age groups and those in remote areas. Continuation and enhancement of a suite of tobacco control efforts are required.
On the eve that the Australian Government has secured a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Redfern Statement Alliance Leaders met to discuss its relationship with the Australian Government.
Securing this position to the UN Council does not reflect the relationship this Government has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In 2008 there was bi-partisan support for the National Congress as an elected voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
Co-Chair Jackie Huggins said, “National Congress is an elected body with more members than some of the major political parties. Although our relationship has improved with Government, it has been through minor contract work and is ineffective.”
Co-Chair Rod Little said, “National Congress is strongly committed to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We have consistently called on the Australian Government to honour its commitment and not just sit idly on the UN Human Rights Council when our people are suffering.”
The recent UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous People’s report delivered a verdict to the Australian Government on the status of Aboriginal Australia and called for the reinstatement of funds to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
The Redfern Statement Alliance Leaders call on Prime Minister Turnbull to seize the opportunity to do the right thing and invest in the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples as a lead Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisation.
Australia is now going to be overseeing the human rights records of other nations whilst serious human rights violations are being committed against our people daily.
2. Tas: Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre at #OTCC2017
Here’s Tina Goodwin, TAC tobacco worker, on stage at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference is Tasmania this week with Hone Harawura.
Tina announced Hone as the winner of the Tariana Turia award which recognises significant contributions to Indigenous tobacco control.
Hone has worked as a community activist and parliamentarian on many issues of importance to Maori. He wants to see tobacco companies sued for all of the death and destruction they cause to Maori, Aboriginal and other Indigenous communities.
Hone’s words: “Those bastards (Big Tobacco) are making people addicted and they are killing our people. Let’s sue them!”Anyone want to help with the legal case? Pictured below with Tom Calma
3. VIC : Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Healthy Lifestyle Team at #OTCC2017
Representing Deadly Dan and ready to take on day 1 of the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference 2017 in Hobart.
Very excited to hear from our friends in other Tackling Indigenous Smoking Teams and mainstream organisations from Aus, NZ and Pacific Islands today.
Learning about the progress and challenges as we aim for a Tobacco Free Pacific by 2025!
4. NT : Miwatj AMS Arnhem Land and Congressat #OTCC2017
5.QLD : Deadly Choices at @OTCC2017
6 SA : AHCSA and Quitline at #OTCC2017
7.WA : Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service ‘you CAN quit’ film project ( Note not at #OTCC2017)
Young people in four remote communities in Western Australia’s East Pilbara — where up to 80 percent of community members smoke — have joined forces with filmmakers on a campaign to urge people to give up the deadly habit.
The youngsters from Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji in WA are shedding light on the personal stories of local smokers to warn about the dangerous habit in a series of short films.
Fifteen-year-old Clintesha Samson, who was involved in the films and doesn’t smoke, said she would like to see people in her community stop for the sake of their health.
She said she thought film was a good way to get the message across.
The series of films are part of a ‘you CAN quit’ project that has documented the stories of community members who have kicked the habit and those who have been affected by smoking-related illnesses.
The project was organised by Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking team.
The young people involved were responsible for researching, shooting, editing and promoting the films.
Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service regional tobacco coordinator Danika Tager said smoking rates in the East Pilbara were high and more needed to be done to support communities to address tobacco addiction.
“Smoking rates in remote East Pilbara communities are as high as 80 percent and tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in this population,” Ms Tager said.
“Through this important film project we hope to encourage people in these communities to quit smoking, as well as air the many benefits of quitting and where they can find help and support.”
The films are being shown in communities and also aired on TV and social media.
The Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service is a community-controlled health organisation that provides primary health care, 24-hour emergency services and preventative health and education programs in the communities of Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji.
“We have seen significant declines in smoking among Indigenous Australian adults over the past two decades that will bring major health benefits over time,
But we’re seeing tobacco’s lethal legacy from when smoking prevalence was at its peak.
We need a continued comprehensive approach to tobacco control, and the incorporation of Indigenous leadership, long-term investment and the provision of culturally appropriate materials and activities is critical to further reducing smoking,”
Dr Ray Lovett from the ANU Research School of Population Health.
Please note Dr Lovett will be speaking at the NACCHO Conference 31 Oct -2 Nov
Topic: Mayi Kuwayu: a national study of culture and wellbeing among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Smoking-related deaths among Indigenous Australians are likely to continue to rise and peak over the next decade despite big reductions in smoking over the past 20 years, a new study led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found.
Cigarette smoking is a leading contributor to the burden of morbidity and mortality among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter respectfully referred to as Indigenous) Australians1, the total Australian population2, and in developed countries worldwide.3
The health impacts of smoking vary by smoking duration and intensity, but it is well established that smoking causes a range of health conditions.3 Although there have been marked smoking reductions in Australia4,5, the prevalence of smoking among Indigenous adults remains high, estimated at 41.4%, compared with 14.5% in the total Australian adult population.5
Smoking behaviour is influenced by factors including social, cultural and environmental factors, and tobacco control effectiveness.6 Indigenous tobacco use is also tightly tied to Australia’s history of colonisation; for example, tobacco was often used as a form of payment, and was issued as part of rations on mission stations.7
Dramatic decreases in smoking prevalence in the total Australian population suggest that the smoking epidemic is in its final stages.3,6 However, the stage of the tobacco epidemic among the Indigenous Australian population is less clear.
Understanding the stage of the epidemic provides insight into probable trends in smoking-attributable mortality, thereby enabling accurate communication of the likely impacts of smoking4, and informing relevant programs and policies.
This paper provides a perspective on the current stage of the smoking epidemic among Indigenous Australians based on an existing model of smoking epidemic stages3, and describes the expected short- and long-term implications for the wellbeing of the Indigenous population, and for programs and policies.
Stages of the smoking epidemic
Lopez proposed a four-stage model of cigarette consumption and mortality in 1994, characterising features of the smoking epidemic3; the model was updated in 2012.4 The proportion of the adult population that regularly smokes – and variation by characteristics such as age and sex – provides an indication of the extent to which smoking has been adopted.3 Smoking-attributable mortality, which can be crudely approximated by lung cancer deaths, provides insight into the health consequences of smoking at each stage of the epidemic.3,4 Central to the model is the long delay between smoking and its associated cancer mortality; even when the prevalence of smoking begins to decline, smoking-attributed mortality continues to increase, reflecting the smoking behaviours of up to three decades earlier.3,4
In short, Stage 1 of the tobacco epidemic marks the initial population uptake of smoking, with no evidence of smoking-attributable mortality. In Stage 2, the prevalence of smoking increases rapidly to its peak, alongside low but increasing smoking-attributable mortality. By Stage 3, awareness of the health hazards of smoking is common, and conditions are favourable for implementing tobacco control measures; while the prevalence of smoking remains stable or begins to decrease, smoking-attributable mortality rises rapidly. Stage 4 is represented by decreasing smoking prevalence and associated mortality to their lower limits, in a context of widespread awareness of tobacco harms and tobacco control measures
This research paper is published in the Public Health Research & Practice journal
Lead researcher Dr Ray Lovett said the study found the lag between smoking and the onset of smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer means the number of smoking deaths was likely to keep climbing.
“On the positive side, we’ve seen a 43 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease deaths, mainly from heart attacks, over the past 20 years among Indigenous people, in large part due to people quitting smoking.”
Smoking rates among Indigenous Australians have dropped from more than half the population in 1994 to two in five adults today. This is still two and a half times higher than the rest of the Australian population.
Dr Lovett said the substantial progress in reducing smoking rates, particularly in the past decade, was a clear sign that further reductions and improvements to Indigenous health could be achieved.
Co-researcher Dr Katie Thurber said the team analysed the available national health and death data from the past 20 years to conduct the study.
“The available data do not provide the full picture of smoking and its impacts for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, so it’s important to understand these limitations and work towards improving data in the future,” said Dr Thurber from the ANU Research School of Population Health.
“Despite these challenges, we’ve managed to produce the first comprehensive assessment of the tobacco epidemic among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”
The research paper is published in the Public Health Research & Practice journal and this issue of the journal celebrates 50 years since the 1967 referendum, when Australians voted to amend the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to create laws for Indigenous people and include them in the Census.
This report expands on the key findings from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) that were released on 1 June 2017.
It presents more detailed analysis including comparisons between states and territories and for population groups. Unless otherwise specified, the results presented in this report are for those aged 14 or older.
As Indigenous Australians constitute only 2.4 per cent of the 2016 NDSHS (unweighted) sample (or 568 respondents), the results must be interpreted with caution, particularly those for illicit drug use.
In 2016, the daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians was considerably higher than non-Indigenous people but has declined since 2010 and 2013 (decreased from 35% in 2010 to 32% in 2013 and to 27% in 2016) (Figure 8.7). The NDSHS was not designed to detect small differences among the Indigenous population, so even though the smoking rate declined between 2013 and 2016, it was not significant.
The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) were specifically designed to represent Indigenous Australians (see Box 8.1 for further information).
After adjusting for differences in age structures, Indigenous people were 2.3 times as likely to smoke daily as non-Indigenous people in 2016 (Table 8.7).
Overall, Indigenous Australians were more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Indigenous Australians (31% compared with 23%, respectively) and this has been increasing since 2010 (was 25%) (Figure 8.8).
Among those who did drink, a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians drank at risky levels, and placed themselves at harm of an alcoholrelated injury from single drinking occasion, at least monthly (35% compared with 25% for non-Indigenous).
The (rate ratio) gap in drinking rates was even greater when looking at the consumption of 11 or more standard drinks at least monthly. Indigenous Australians were 2.8 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to drink 11 or more standard drinks monthly or more often (18.8% compared with 6.8%).
About 1 in 5 (20%) Indigenous Australian exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016; a slight but non-significant decline from 23% in 2013, and significantly lower than the 32% in 2010. The proportion of non-Indigenous Australians exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016 was 17.0% and significantly declined from 18.1% in 2013.
Other than ecstasy and cocaine, Indigenous Australians aged 14 or older used illicit drugs at a higher rate than the general population (Table 8.6). In 2016, Indigenous Australians were: 1.8 times as likely to use any illicit drug in the last 12 months; 1.9 times as likely to use cannabis; 2.2 times as likely to use meth/amphetamines; and 2.3 times as likely to misuse pharmaceuticals as non-Indigenous people. These differences were still apparent even after adjusting for differences in age structure (Table 8.7). There were no significant changes in illicit use of drugs among Indigenous Australians between 2013 and 2016.
1 in 8 Australians smoke daily and 6 in 10 have never smoked
Smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend since 1991, but the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent 3 year period (was 12.8% in 2013 and 12.2% in 2016).
Among current smokers, 3 in 10 (28.5%) tried to quit but did not succeed and about 1 in 3 (31%) do not intend to quit.
People living in the lowest socioeconomic areas are more likely to smoke than people living in the highest socioeconomic area but people in the lowest socioeconomic area were the only group to report a significant decline in daily smoking between 2013 and 2016 (from 19.9% to 17.7%).
8 in 10 Australians had consumed at least 1 glass of alcohol in the last 12 months
The proportion exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines declined between 2013 and 2016 (from 18.2% to 17.1%); however, the proportion exceeding the single occasion risk guidelines once a month or more remained unchanged at about 1 in 4.
Among recent drinkers: 1 in 4 (24%) had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2016; about 1 in 6 (17.4%) put themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in the last 12 months; and about 1 in 10 (9%) had injured themselves or someone else because of their drinking in their lifetime.
Half of recent drinkers had undertaken at least some alcohol moderation behaviour. The main reason chosen was for health reasons.
A greater proportion of people living in Remote or very remote areas abstained from alcohol in 2016 than in 2013 (26% compared with 17.5%) and a lower proportion exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines (26% compared with 35%).
About 1 in 8 Australians had used at least 1 illegal substance in the last 12 months and 1 in 20 had misused a pharmaceutical drug
In 2016, the most commonly used illegal drugs that were used at least once in the past 12 months were cannabis (10.4%), followed by cocaine (2.5%), ecstasy (2.2%) and meth/amphetamines (1.4%).
However, ecstasy and cocaine were used relatively infrequently and when examining the share of Australians using an illegal drug weekly or more often in 2016, meth/amphetamines (which includes ‘ice’) was the second most commonly used illegal drug after cannabis.
Most meth/amphetamine users used ‘ice’ as their main form, increasing from 22% of recent meth/amphetamine users in 2010 to 57% in 2016.
Certain groups disproportionately experience drug-related risks
Use of illicit drugs in the last 12 months was far more common among people who identified as being homosexual or bisexual; ecstasy and meth/amphetamines use in this group was 5.8 times as high as heterosexual people.
People who live in Remote and very remote areas, unemployed people and Indigenous Australians continue to be more likely to smoke daily and use illicit drugs than other population groups.
The proportion of people experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress increased among recent illicit drug users between 2013 and 2016—from 17.5% to 22% but also increased from 8.6% to 9.7% over the same period for the non-illicit drug using population (those who had not used an illicit drug in the past 12 months).
Daily smoking, risky alcohol consumption and recent illicit drug use was lowest in the Australian Capital Territory and highest in the Northern Territory.
The majority of Australians support policies aimed at reducing the acceptance and use of drugs, and the harms resulting from drug use
There was generally greater support for education and treatment and lower support for law enforcement measures.
‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson, Matthew James. ‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use.’
About 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing more detailed data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.
In addition to illicit drugs, the report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Part 3 Mental illness rising among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users
Mental illnesses are becoming more common among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings 2016, builds on preliminary results released in June, and gives further insight into Australians’ use of, and attitudes to, drugs and alcohol in 2016.
The report shows that among people who had recently (in the last 12 months) used an illicit drug, about 27% had been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness—an increase from 21% in 2013. Rates of mental illness were particularly high—and saw the most significant increases—for meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users.
‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James.
‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use’.
Similarly, the report also reveals a complex relationship between employment status and drug use.
‘For example, people who were unemployed were about 3 times as likely to have recently used meth/amphetamines as employed people, and about 2 times as likely to use cannabis or smoke tobacco daily. On the other hand, employed people were more likely to use cocaine than those who were unemployed,’ Mr James said.
Today’s report also shows higher rates of drug use among people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, with the largest differences seen in the use of ecstasy and meth/amphetamines.
‘Homosexual and bisexual people were almost 6 times as likely as heterosexual people to use each of these drugs, and were also about 4 times as likely to use cocaine as heterosexual people, and 3 times more likely to use cannabis or misuse pharmaceutical drugs.’ Mr James said.
Overall, about 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing comprehensive data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.
‘Our report also shows that more Australians are in favour of the use of cannabis in clinical trials to treat medical conditions—87% now support its use, up from 75% in 2013. We also found that 85% of people now support legislative changes to permit its use for medical purposes in general, up from 69% in 2013,’ Mr James said.
In addition to illicit drugs, today’s report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.
The report also contains data for each state and territory in Australia, and shows differences in drug use between the jurisdictions. For example, recent use of meth/amphetamine was highest in Western Australia, but the use of cocaine was highest in New South Wales.
May 31st is World No Tobacco Day and people from Cape York are saying “Don’t Make Smokes Your Story.”
Apunipima Cape York Health Council Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) staff have been engaging with Cape York communities to develop an anti-smoking campaign.
The locally appropriate ‘Don’t Make Smokes Your Story’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the harms of smoking and passive smoking, the benefits of a smoke-free environment, and available quit support.
The Cape York ‘Don’t Make Smokes Your Story’ Campaign enables community members to share on film their stories about quitting, trying to quit and the impact of smoking on families and communities. It is hoped that by sharing their stories, others will be encouraged to share their stories too.
Coen local Amos James Hobson has never smoked in his life. He sees many young people start smoking “Just to be cool, to pick up a chick.” He says to all the young people out there, “Our people didn’t smoke, don’t smoke, it’s not good. It’s not our culture and it’s not our way.”
Thala Wallace from Napranum has tried to quit three times and says “Every time it gets easier.” Her strategy is to “Try to find ways to occupy myself, snack-out on fruit or go to the gym, getting out and hanging out more with people who don’t smoke.”
Apunipima received a Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) Regional Tobacco Control Grant as part of the National Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.
To effectively reduce smoking rates in Cape York, Apunipima TIS staff have been engaging with communities to develop and implement a locally appropriate social marketing campaign to influence smoking behaviours and community readiness to address smoke-free environments. The Cape York campaign will align with a national ‘Don’t Make Smokes Your Story’ campaign.