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Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) Program

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) regional tobacco control grants aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through population health promotion activities to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.

What is the issue?

Cigarette smoking has long been recognised as the largest modifiable risk factor affecting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the latest research shows that the health effects of smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were previously underestimated, and that smoking causes half (50%) of deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 45 years or older, and over one-third (37%) of all deaths1.

Despite these figures, the TIS program is operating in a positive context with a significant opportunity to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes. Smoking rates are falling, and a recent key paper shows that there are almost 50,000 fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who smoke daily today than there would have been if smoking prevalence had remained at 2004/05 levels2. This article also found that:

  • Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (6 out of every 10) do not smoke
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who smoke daily has dropped from 50% in 2004/05 to 40% in 2018/19 - a 10% absolute decrease in smoking over 15 years;
  • smoking rates went down by 12% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in urban/regional areas decreased by 12% (from 49% to 37%) over this period; however, there was no change in smoking rates in remote areas where just over one in two people smoke daily.

The TIS program is critically important in continuing and accelerating these trends - closing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

How the TIS team works to improve the issue

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is one of the 37 organisations funded as part of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) Regional Tobacco Control Grants (RTCG) program. AHCSA is responsible for delivering the activities in the following regions:

Ceduna and
surrounding region
5690Includes communities at Koonibba, Yalata, Oak Valley and Maralinga and far west Eyre Peninsula communities
Coober Pedy and
surrounding region
5723,5734,5733, 5731Includes communities at Nepabunna, Marree, Copley and Oodnadatta
Murray Bridge and
surrounding region
5253, 5264, 5211, 5214Includes, Murray Bridge, Coorong, Raukkan, Meningie, Lower Fleurieu Peninsula (Victor Harbor and Goolwa)
Port Lincoln and
surrounding region
5607Includes communities in mid-west and eastern Eyre Peninsula
Riverland and
surrounding region
5343,5345, 5341Includes Gerard, Barmera, Renmark and Berri
Whyalla and
surrounding region
5701, 5540, 5434Includes communities at Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Flinders Ranges
Yorke Peninsula5573Includes communities at Point Pearce and Port Victoria
Gawler and Mid North5118 and 5372Gawler

+-What are the key program areas?

A key component of AHCSA's program to tackle smoking is their Puyu Blasters campaign, based on a superhero character who combats tobacco use by encouraging and supporting community groups and individuals with smoking prevention and cessation messages. The campaign was developed through community consultation and particularly appeals to the younger members of the community.

The Puyu Blasters Campaign

Puyu Blasters Youth - Health Mentor Education (schools and community)

The Puyu Blasters Youth campaign includes:

  • High schools
  • Primary schools
  • Kindergartens
  • Youth hubs/programs
  • School holiday programs
  • Sporting carnivals

Puyu Blasters Men’s and Women’s - Group Activities (including pregnant women)

The Puyu Blasters Men’s & Women’s (maternal health) campaign includes:

  • Education sessions
  • Support groups (smoking cessation)

Puyu Blasters Family and Community – Population Health Promotion Activities

Family and Community health promotion activities include:

  • Colour Fun Runs
  • NAIDOC activities (regional)
  • World No Tobacco Day - May 31
  • Sports carnivals
  • Smoke-free homes, cars and public spaces

Puyu Blasters In-Service – Capacity building and staff development

Support health and community organisations to:

  • Create smoke-free workplaces and policies
  • Health professional training (brief intervention tools, including smokerlysers)
  • Referral pathways (quit support)

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