2013 Aboriginal smoking and health follow-up survey
This report presents topline findings from the Aboriginal Smoking and Health (ASH) follow-up survey conducted in 2013. The main aim of the follow-up survey was to assess changes in behaviour and attitude among Aboriginal people in New South Wales (NSW) who took part in the 2012 survey.
The survey was conducted via telephone with Aboriginal persons aged 16 years and over who participated in the 2012 study and agreed to be recontacted. Of the 461 Aboriginal people who agreed to future contact, 244 (52.9%) completed the second telephone survey.
Tobacco smoking continues to be a common behaviour among respondents. In 2013, 37% were still considered smokers, 29% were ex-smokers, and 34% had never smoked. Only a small proportion of respondents (6%) had changed their smoking behaviour since the 2012 survey; nine smokers in 2012 had stopped smoking at the time of the survey, while six ex-smokers had commenced again.
Since the previous study, there has been little change in respondents’ smoking behaviour, with marginal (non-significant) decreases the proportion of daily smokers, heavy (daily) smokers, and ‘moderate’ to ‘high’ nicotine dependence.
Around two-thirds (64%) of respondents in the 2013 survey had recently seen anti-tobacco advertising on television. The advertising campaign most commonly recalled by respondents was Break the Chain. Recall of this advertisement increased from 6% in 2012 to 36% in 2013, while recall of many other campaigns decreased. From those who recalled Break the Chain in 2013, almost everyone (97%) could recall the message ‘don’t pass smoking habits onto your children’.
Prompted recognition of Break the Chain was near universal in 2013 (93%). This was a significant increase from 2012 (75%). While there were no significant differences according to demographic characteristics, recognition tended to be stronger among males.
In terms of the direct impact of Break the Chain, 64% of smokers who had seen the ad stated they had thought about quitting soon or actually had cut down as a consequence.
Most smokers reported they have tried to quit at least once. Further, the proportion who attempted to quit within the last six months increased significantly from 26% in 2012 to 44% in 2013.
Among smokers, more than 80% had thought about quitting at least once or twice within the past two weeks. Nearly all agreed they would not start smoking if they had their time over again (93%), and a significantly greater proportion felt embarrassed to be a smoker (57%).
Most believed their smoking has already done harm to their body (92%) and will cause them to become seriously ill in the future (86%).
Illnesses caused by smoking
Broad awareness of the association between smoking and illness or disease was strong among respondents, with a strong shift from general mentions of ‘cancer’ towards more specific types of cancers. Most notably, 67% identified lung cancer in 2013 (up from 45% in 2012) and 25% identified throat cancer (up from 13% in 2012). There was also a significant increase in mentions of heart disease, from 29% to 36%.
The 2013 ASH follow-up survey has provided insight into recent changes in smoking-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours among Aboriginal people in NSW, as well as exposure to anti-tobacco advertising.
The survey results indicate that there has been little change in respondents’ smoking behaviour overall between 2012 and 2013, there is evidence of an increase in recent quit attempts and generally negative attitudes towards smokers’ own behaviours. This indicates a continued need for health professionals to provide smoking cessation support.
Consistent with the adoption of Break the Chain as a major element of NSW’s anti-tobacco media campaign in 2013 (and a possible longitudinal effect), recall and recognition of this advertisement has increased significantly among those surveyed. There has also been increases in knowledge of specific illnesses and diseases caused by smoking.