Indigenous smoking: the need for a stronger response

A review of studies aimed at helping indigenous people beat smoking provides some guidance to policymakers. But more and higher quality research needs to be done.

Higher intensity interventions hold promise in tackling the problem of high indigenous smoking rates, according to a new meta-study published in the latest edition of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s Evidence Base journal.

The authors systematically reviewed 91 studies conducted on the cessation and prevention of smoking targeted towards Aboriginal populations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. They found that intensive interventions with multiple, reinforcing components are useful:

“Based on the evidence produced we can confidently say that multi-faceted interventions that take into account various aspects of tobacco use at once such as biochemical addiction, habit, cultural reasons for smoking, and stressors and psychological reasons for smoking, are effective.”

An intensive, multi-pronged approach might include, for example, medication, culturally-tailored written resources, smoking bans at community events, counselling with a health worker, a community-wide program and an incentive scheme.

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