Who’s really in control?
In this blog, I want to talk about the history of tobacco. Tobacco has been used to control vulnerable and lower socio-economic groups for hundreds of years, including being used to control (ab)Original people. Tailored cigarettes were introduced by european settlers to (ab)Original people when they arrived in 1788.
In the decades that followed, (ab)Original people were moved from traditional lands to church, government or private missions. Tobacco was exchanged for work and to reward ‘good’ behaviour. Many (ab)Original people worked in the cattle industry and defence forces where they were paid with rations of tobacco and food instead of money. Tobacco was often used to influence people to give up traditional lifestyles and to attend church.
Payment in tobacco rations caused addiction and many health problems for (ab)Original people. As recently as the late 1960s, (ab)Original workers on cattle stations were still being paid in tobacco instead of money. Today, around half of all (ab)Original & Torres Strait Islander people smoke, compared to less than 20% of non-Indigenous Australians.
Big tobacco companies make a lot of money by marketing cigarettes towards vulnerable communities with complex social issues, such as (ab)Original Australians.
Tobacco companies target and manipulate the vulnerable and powerless – poor and disadvantaged communities.
(ab)Original people have suffered much trauma in Australia through colonisation, racism, losing connection to land and breakdown of culture. All over the world, there are higher rates of tobacco use where there is poverty, trauma and social disadvantage. As a result, there is more disease and death. For (ab)Original and Torres Strait islander people in Australia it is no different. People use a lot of tobacco where there is pain and suffering and the tobacco keeps the cycle of pain and suffering going.
Targeted anti-smoking campaigns, like No Smokes, are needed to help empower Indigenous Australians to quit the smokes or make the decision to never start, to help them regain power and control over their health, their lives and their communities.
If you need help to quit the smokes or have a family member that wants to quit then check out the videos, games and fact sheets on this site. Your journey to a healthy life is just a click away.