Smoking Story


Almost half (47%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 15 years smoke everyday.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians die much younger than other Australians. On average Aboriginal men live to about 67 years of age compared to non-Aboriginal men who live to about 79 years of age. Aboriginal women live to about 73 years of age compared to 83 for non-Aboriginal women.

One of the main reasons Aboriginal people die younger is from diseases caused by smoking tobacco, such as heart disease, lung and throat disease and cancers. In fact, 20% of Aboriginal people will die from sickness caused by smoking.

That means one in five Aboriginal people die early and painfully because of cigarettes.

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander houses (62%) have at least one person who smokes. Lots have more than one. Aboriginal people start smoking at an earlier age than non-Aboriginal people. Aboriginal women are much more likely to smoke while pregnant than non-Aboriginal women. Lots of Aboriginal health workers smoke. Aboriginal Australians die much younger than other Australians.

Smoking is responsible for more Aboriginal health problems and deaths than alcohol and all other drugs combined.

 Why smoke?

Some Aboriginal people argue that smoking is just part of Aboriginal culture but this is not true.

Traditional smoking heals, but tobacco smoking kills.

Sharing tobacco plays a big role in the social life of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who think smoking is part of normal everyday life. So much so that people who don’t smoke can end up feeling alone and separated from family and community.

All over the world, people smoke more tobacco where there is poverty. For Aboriginal Australians, it is no different. But tobacco use also causes pain and suffering and so keeps the cycle going. To stop the pain, the smoking has to stop.