The NSW Government is committed to reducing the harm caused by tobacco smoking among Aboriginal people in NSW. Targets for reducing smoking rates of Aboriginal people are specified in the NSW 2021 Plan:
  • reduce smoking rates by 3% by 2015 for non-Aboriginal people and by 4% for Aboriginal people by 2015
  • reduce the rate of smoking by non-Aboriginal pregnant women by 0.5% per year and by 2% for pregnant Aboriginal women.

In NSW, the smoking prevalence among Aboriginal people remains unacceptably high despite some significant decreases in smoking prevalence in the general population. Health Stats NSW​​ shows:

  • In 2017, 28.5% of Aboriginal adults were current smokers compared to 14.7% of non-Aboriginal adults
  • In 2016, 41.3% of Aboriginal mothers reported smoking during pregnancy compared to 6.9% of non-Aboriginal mothers.

Aboriginal people are a socioeconomic disadvantaged subgroup in the Australian population, which in itself is a predictor of increased smoking behaviour. Aboriginal people experience high rates of chronic disease due to smoking, and as a result one in five Aboriginal people will die prematurely from a tobacco-related illness.

Reducing the high rates of tobacco smoking among Aboriginal people will improve quality of life and help to close the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

A framework for guiding action on Aboriginal tobacco resistance and control

The ATRAC Framework: A Strategic Framwork for Aboriginal Tobacco Resistance and ControlTo assist in planning and coordinating efforts to reduce smoking among Aboriginal people, the NSW Ministry of Health and the AH&MRC worked in partnership to develop the ATRAC Framework: A Strategic Framework for Aboriginal Tobacco Resistance and Control in NSW. The Framework aims to achieve integrated, coordinated and client-focused approaches to addressing smoking rates among Aboriginal people in NSW. It includes evidence, key principles and best practice approaches to achieving this aim.

NSW Health is committed to ensuring all Aboriginal tobacco control activity is guided and informed by the ATRAC Framework.

NSW Health partnership initiatives

NSW Health is fully committed to tackling tobacco and improving the health of Aboriginal people. NSW Health works in partnership with Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders to enhance coordination and integration of service, maintain connectedness and promote the sharing of experiences, information and evidence. Partnership initiatives include:

  • training Aboriginal Health Workers to improve their skills in cessation advice and community based tobacco control programs
  • supporting Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in their efforts to address smoking among their clients and in their local communities
  • enhancing the Quitline service to include Aboriginal Quitline to better support Aboriginal callers
  • supporting the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network and Corrective Services NSW to decrease smoking among Aboriginal people in custody.

AH&MRC Tobacco Resistance and Control (A-TRAC) program

NSW Health worked in partnership with the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) to implement the A-TRAC program. The program aimed to contribute to reduced smoking rates for Aboriginal people in NSW and focuses on supporting and building the capacity of ACCHSs to integrate tobacco resistance and control activities as part of routine care. The A-TRAC program was undertaken in collaboration between the AH&MRC, ACCHSs, NSW Health and a range of stakeholders.

Quit for new life - supporting Aboriginal pregnant women to quit smoking

Quit for new life is a smoking cessation support program for NSW women having an Aboriginal baby. The program is an initiative of the NSW Ministry of Health in partnership with NSW Kids and Families. For more information visit Quit For New Life.​​​​​​​​​​​

Page Updated: Friday 24 August 2018
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health