Background: Reducing smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations remains a key priority for organisations providing primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the peak bodies and governments. There is a long history of Australian Government interventions targeting tobacco control, including bans on advertising, health promotional warnings, increasing taxes and legislating smoke free environments. Additionally, the Australian Government is targeting high smoking levels in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations through the ‘Tackling Indigenous Smoking’ (TIS) programme. The largest amount of funding under this programme is allocated to Regional Tobacco Control Grants, principally 36 local organisations funded to undertake initiatives to address tobacco control that are locally designed and delivered to prevent smoking uptake and support smoking cessation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Aim: To map the prevalence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking using ABS national datasets from different points in time and to both visually and statistically examine changes. These maps help to create a context for discussion on the current policy environment.
Method: The project uses data from the 2014 ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey and the 2012/13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey to create maps that reflect the prevalence of smoking at the ABS Indigenous regions level. It will further map the TIS funded regional tobacco control grant recipients against these regions. Significant change in smoking prevalence will be conducted using chi squared tests.
Results: There is wide variation in the prevalence of smoking by Indigenous region as demonstrated by the two GIS maps. An analysis of the changes in prevalence is considered between the two time points.
Conclusion: Despite limitations, analysing national datasets influences policy developments. While there is some evidence of success in reducing smoking levels across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, identifying areas and regions with little or no change is important. Utilising national survey data in a geospatial analysis at locally relevant levels helps to understand the trends better and could contribute to ensuring policy and programme resources are effectively targeted.