Brief intervention (see Box 1) is accepted as an effective approach which increases quit rates in motivated individuals. This approach has been found to be most effective when combined with other interventions such as behavioural support, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Although it is usually delivered in a one-to-one situation, increasing access to brief intervention training is an important and effective part of a population health promotion approach. This is because:
Box 1: What is a brief intervention?
Brief intervention makes the most of any opportunity to raise awareness, share knowledge and get someone to think about making changes to improve their health and behaviours. Brief intervention uses counselling skills such as motivational interviewing and goal setting. An understanding of the stages of behaviour change is also important. Brief intervention takes as little as 3 minutes and is usually carried out in a one-to-one situation. The 5As for smoking cessation for health professionals is an international smoking cessation framework used in brief intervention that has been shown to be very effective in encouraging and supporting smoking cessation. More information about the 5As can be found in this podcast developed for the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people featuring Professor David Thomas.
Specific barriers to the use of brief intervention with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients have been identified.
Cultural beliefs are particularly important, as they mean that brief intervention is often seen to be inappropriately telling people how to behave.
The Queensland Government developed a brief intervention training program, SmokeCheck, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and other health professionals who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health clients and communities, which addressed these barriers. It included culturally sensitive materials and approaches for brief intervention. Evaluation found that SmokeCheck increases health workers confidence when:
Health workers also reported offering more advice about nicotine replacement therapy and reducing tobacco use after training, suggesting a change in behaviour as well as confidence.
A recent study which included SmokeCheck training as part of a multi-component community project, found that while health workers spoke positively about the training. No-one implemented the intervention as they had been shown. Rather they adapted their approach using only some of the components. No evidence is available yet on how this affected client responses to the intervention – it may have been that these adaptations were appropriate responses to individual need.
A guide to the SmokeCheck brief intervention with clients at the various stages of change.
SmokeCheck and other brief intervention training packages designed specifically for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (e.g. Quitskills) are available in most States and Territories. More information on workforce training for brief intervention can be found here.
Because of the opportunistic nature of brief intervention, it is important that anyone who has contact with smokers from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has culturally appropriate brief intervention training. In many organisations only health professionals, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, nurses, doctors, and dentists are trained to do brief interventions. However, because brief intervention is focused on motivation and education, not therapy, you do not need a health background to do this training. They are also opportunistic, meaning that they do not need to take place in a medical setting. This means anyone can do brief intervention training, including:
It is important to provide health promotion for primary and secondary school age people. There is evidence that school-based activities have an increased chance of working if they:
Linking school-based interventions into wider community activities as part of a multi-component program also seems to boost impact. This is thought to be because the effects of school-based smoking prevention programs are sustained when changes in the larger community are also present and when there is reinforcement of the program over time. A review of the evidence also recommended that 15 or more sessions are delivered to young people at school, at least up until the ages of 14 or 15 years.
Evaluated school-based health education activities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, include the
program, an interactive education program of seven weeks which encourages young people to be positive lifestyle role models. Since 2010 this program has been delivered to more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across 20 schools and training centres throughout South East Queensland and has been found to have a positive impact in the urban setting on students’ knowledge, attitudes and self-efficacy regarding leadership, chronic disease and the impact of risk factors including smoking. These are recognised as important steps towards reducing the number of young people taking up smoking and increasing the number of young people who quit smoking.
According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), almost half of all pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoke (44%). Smoking in pregnancy can be supported/encouraged by people’s expectations about what is considered ‘normal’ behaviour, as well as family influences.
Quitting is seen as a difficult thing to do. In 2017, AIHW found that the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who quit smoking after 20 weeks of pregnancy was 12%. Despite strong protective feelings for the unborn baby and a desire to quit in pregnancy, continued smoking is sometimes seen as a necessary response to stressful situations in life. There is also evidence that women’s interest in quitting is hindered by:
Overall, pregnancy can be a missed opportunity for smoking behaviour change. The evidence shows that effective population health promotion should:
One of the TIS Program elements iSISTAQUIT is designed to increase health service capacity by providing best practice training to health care workers who have contact with pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. You can read more about iSISTAQUIT here.
Regional Grants do not fund TIS teams to offer nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to smokers. However, it is important that TIS workers have up-to-date knowledge of the individual level cessation supports available to pregnant women, as these can inform population health promotion activities (e.g. community knowledge building). While NRT does not always result in smoking cessation by pregnant women, using NRT rather than smoking while pregnant is better for the baby because it removes the other dangerous toxins contained in tobacco smoke. Antenatal smoking guidelines, Management of smoking in pregnant women recommend that pregnant women should first try to quit using counselling and support. If this does not work, then the woman should be offered oral short-acting forms of NRT (lozenge or mouth spray). If this is not effective, smoking cessation treatment may progress to nicotine patches, or if necessary combined therapy (i.e. patches plus oral forms). NRT must only be used in pregnancy under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Other stop smoking medicines (varenicline and bupropion) are not safe to use in pregnancy.
During pregnancy, vaping (using e-cigarettes) that contain nicotine should be discouraged. The emerging evidence suggests this is at least as harmful for the baby as smoking conventional cigarettes.
A recent study in Australia has also demonstrated the acceptability of rewards or incentives to encourage pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to quit or reduce their smoking.
Second-hand and third-hand smoke are health risk factors, particularly for children. If mothers are not ready to quit, then finding ways of avoiding smoking around their children, such as in the car or at home are important ways of improving child health. For more information on this topic please see the section on reducing second-hand and third-hand smoke.
You can find further information in the video and factsheet produced by NBPU TIS which can be downloaded here.
Social media and social networking tools such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are increasingly being used to help tackle smoking, particularly with young adults. One of the advantages of these platforms is that they are accessible, low cost and familiar to young people. About 15 million Australians are active users of Facebook – around 63% of the total population.
Research by the McNair Ingenuity Research Institute in 2014 found that Facebook is a popular means of communication among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. According to this study (which is ongoing), even in remote communities use of Facebook is higher than in mainstream Australian society.
The use of Facebook and Twitter as a way of communicating is a popular approach for many healthcare services. However the value of these tools seems to lie more in their networking functions. Social media is interactive and user-driven, meaning it has the potential to provide real-time peer to peer support and discussion around tobacco use.
There is currently a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of using social media in tobacco control. Studies that do exist tend to be descriptive, with a focus on the acceptability of the medium to support quitting, or an analysis of posts. A recent study from Canada provides some support for the use of social media for extending the reach and impact of more traditional smoking cessation approaches among young adult smokers. The study found that young people engaged through social media were more than twice as likely to have made a successful quit attempt three months into the campaign than those not on social media and using on-line support only.
Menzies School of Health Research has recently produced a tips and tricks resource for people working in health promotion and tobacco control, Social media in health promotion and tobacco control: tips and tricks. An accompanying PowerPoint presentation, Can Facebook help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit smoking? is also available.
Mass media and social marketing campaigns aim to reduce the number of people who smoke by changing attitudes, beliefs and intentions surrounding tobacco use. Mass media campaigns take a traditional marketing approach to this aim, treating the desire to be smoke-free as a product to be sold. In contrast, social marketing uses knowledge of specific community barriers to develop more targeted marketing approaches.
Both approaches use education about the negative consequences of smoking and the benefits of not smoking for two purposes:
It is thought these campaigns help to prevent smoking by changing people’s expectations toward smoking, so that tobacco use is no longer accepted as the ‘usual, cool or necessary thing to do.’
There is evidence that both mass media and social marketing campaigns can help prevent smoking from starting, encourage people to stop smoking, and prevent relapse among recent quitters by reminding them about why they chose to stop smoking. However one of the biggest effects is in relation to promoting access to cessation support services such as Quitline, counselling and other health professionals. Developing capacity to support people who are ready to quit – by taking the systems approach described under Planning, is therefore essential if programs are to be sustainable.
A campaign’s impact is influenced by:
The relevance of the message has been found to be important for audience engagement. The context, characters and role models used in advertising or community activities must seem believable, if smokers are to connect to them. When a campaign does not relate to how people see themselves, they find it hard to become interested in the content. While there is some evidence that mass media campaigns do influence attitudes and beliefs of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in regard to smoking, more specific local messages tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seem to be most effective. Evidence from the
project also supports the importance of using targeted advertising.
The Australian Government’s Don’t Make Smokes Your Story campaign is a good example of how advertising and community-based activities can work together to encourage behaviour change among Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander smokers. You can adapt and use these materials and resources for your own activities.
Reducing second-hand and third-hand smoke is an important aim. This is because second-hand and third-hand smoke can be very harmful. The evidence also shows that if smoking is seen as ‘normal’ at a community level, young people are more likely to start smoking, and current smokers will find it harder to quit. Increasing the extent to which a community is smoke-free is associated with less smoking and more success in quitting. Relevant activities include the following:
To be successful, smoke-free policies need community participation – not just consultation – in their development. Policies that have local ownership and commitment are more likely to be followed. There is also evidence that introducing smoke-free policies in the workplace can lead to increased support for smoke-free spaces in other areas such as smoke-free homes and cars. Successful smoke-free workplace policies also result in more workers wanting to quit.
Combining locally owned smoke-free policies with access to quit support services increases the success of these policies. Working in an environment with a smoke free policy can also encourage individuals to quit.
Here are some quick tips on setting up a smoke-free environment: How to set up a smoke free environment.
The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of New South Wales provide a good set of resources to help you support workplaces to set up smoke-free policies. The second module, Workplace smoking policy in the
provides: advice on how to begin the process; templates for worker consultation; and templates to assess how much smoking happens at work.
Second-hand and third-hand smoke is a health risk factor, particularly for children. Children are at greater risk for a number of reasons, including their size, faster breathing rates and less developed respiratory and immune systems. Second-hand smoke is associated with a number of childhood illnesses including:
Second-hand smoke is also believed to contribute to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Less well known, but probably just as harmful is third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke is the tobacco smoke toxins from second-hand smoke that get into a smoker’s hair and clothes and build up on surfaces and dust in areas where people smoke. Evidence shows that these toxins stay in homes and cars for a long time after the cigarette has been extinguished, even several months later. They may even become more toxic over time.
Third-hand smoke is an emerging area of research and we don’t yet understand all the health hazards. However, children (especially infants), are more vulnerable to third-hand smoke toxins. This is because infants crawl over contaminated floors and mouth contaminated surfaces like furniture and toys. We also know that infants consume up to a quarter of a gram of dust every day. That’s twice as much as adults.
There is good evidence that having a smoke-free home and car improves children’s health. There is also some evidence that keeping the home smoke-free helps to prevent uptake of smoking by young people. There are therefore many good reasons to support people to have smoke-free homes and cars.
A recent review found that intensive counselling methods or motivational interviewing with parents to be most effective for reducing children’s tobacco smoke exposure in the home. There is some indication that school-based education, intensive home visits, brief education provided to parents in clinics (including scheduled children’s health checks) and culturally sensitive health promotion brochures may also help reduce second-hand smoke in the home and car.
Menzies School of Health Research has developed Healthy starts: reducing the health effects of smoking around Indigenous babies and children, a resource to support health providers when discussing second-hand tobacco smoke with families, and to encourage families to have smoke-free homes.
Any opportunity to reduce second-hand smoke is a good investment because there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, and smoke-free events both denormalise smoking and encourage people to think about quitting. Furthermore a recent survey, Talking About The Smokes (TATS) found that support for smoke-free festivals and events is strong in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly among those who don’t smoke: for never smokers, support was 71%, for ex-smokers 65%, and for non-daily smokers 70%. Half of all daily smokers were in favour of smoke-free events (51%).
Pledging to be smoke-free demonstrates an active commitment and motivation to change. Evidence shows that when someone makes a public declaration (pledge) they are more likely to follow through with that promise, both for themselves, but also because of what others might think of them if they don’t maintain their promise. We also know that people are more likely to stick with a commitment that has real value, purpose and meaning to them.
Smoke-free pledges are a good population health promotion tool because:
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