Tackling tobacco – the facts

Almost one in two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are smokers, and while this rate is slowly falling it is still nearly three times the national average. In fact, one in five Indigenous people will die from a smoking-related illness.

Smoking is the single biggest factor contributing to illness in our community, more than alcohol and all other drugs combined.

Smoking causes many cancers, heart and kidney disease and stroke and can also lead to blindness and type 2 diabetes.

Smoking doesn’t just affect the person who smokes. Children and babies who are exposed to smoke, known as second-hand or passive smoke, can develop asthma, chest infections and pneumonia. Little ones breathe faster than adults, taking in more smoke from passive smoking and they take longer to clear the poisons from tobacco smoke from their bodies.

Tobacco is known to contain up to 4000 chemicals, including rat poison, battery acid and solvents, arsenic, DDT, lighter fuel and radioactive compounds. The chemicals combine to make a tar that ends up coating the lungs.

Why should I quit?
The benefits start from the day you stop smoking. Within two weeks circulation improves and walking becomes easier, within a month your blood pressure will improve, and within a year your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.

Stopping smoking will improve your health, help you live longer and provide a healthier home and future for your family. If you don’t smoke, your children are less likely to become smokers.

You will save money. If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, and pay $20 a packet, you’ve saved $7,300 in a year and $328,500 over a lifetime!

When should I quit?
There is no right or wrong time or way to quit smoking. Some people stop by setting a date and going ‘cold turkey’, others do it gradually and reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke in a day or at certain trigger moments, like with their morning cup of coffee.

Quitting is a journey and many people have several attempts before succeeding. Don’t feel bad and don’t give up if you have tried many times. Help is available.

It’s important to be in the right frame of mind when you quit. Eat well, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and exercise regularly, like walking every day, fishing, hunting and playing sport.

I want to quit, what next?
Some people are able to quit without any help; others have more success with a bit of help from family and friends, health workers and nicotine patches or gum.

START your plan. Set a quit date. Tell family, friends and co-workers you plan to quit. Anticipate the challenges you may face while quitting. Remove cigarettes and tobacco products from your home, car and workplace. Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

Danila Dilba has a team of professional staff who can help you get started so you can give up smoking, or keep you on track if you’ve already stopped and need some extra support.

Visit one of our clinics to find out more.

You can also contact the Quit Line on 13 78 48 and speak with an Indigenous Quit Counsellor.

Remember, it’s never too late to quit smoking!