Indigenous people achieve excellent results from quit helpline

14 Jul 2022

Indigenous people recorded the highest rates of smoking cessation with support from a community program aimed at reducing tobacco consumption in Central Queensland.

A University of Queensland study compared how many people stopped smoking after being referred to Quitline between July 2015 and August 2017 with those who quit after the launch of the ‘10,000 Lives’ program, run by Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS), from November 2017 to December 2019.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Director of Public Health and UQ Rural Clinical School Associate Professor Gulam Khandaker said a total of 3149 people accessed Quitline support during the study period.

“The findings show 2126 people stopped smoking after the introduction of the ‘10,000 Lives’ program, compared to 1023 beforehand, boosting smoking cessation rates by 108 percent,” Dr Khandaker said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recorded the best results with 319 Indigenous Quitline clients quitting the habit during the ‘10,000 Lives’ program, compared to 102 beforehand, which is a 212 per cent improvement.  

“This study shows people are willing to take advantage of support services if they are linked to them,” Dr Khandaker said.

“It also demonstrates the importance of supporting people to quit smoking and becoming healthier, while reducing hospital admissions and deaths.

“Smoking contributes to a range of cancers, as well as chronic lung disease and frequent pneumonia and respiratory conditions.

“It also increases the risk of complications from COVID-19 and influenza, and that is why we will continue to encourage more people to stop smoking.”

As part of the ‘10,000 Lives’ program, the Central Queensland Public Health Unit worked with local champions to promote targeted smoking cessation messages to diverse groups across Central Queensland.

The study’s lead author and School of Public Health PhD candidate Md Arifuzzaman Khan said local coordination was key to the program’s success, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers.

“In Australia, Quitline referrals and uptake by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are often lower than for non-Indigenous people,” Mr Khan said.

“Finding culturally appropriate ways to improve access to quit smoking support is essential for increasing equity in health services provision.

“CQHHS’s ’10,000 Lives’ program employs Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counsellors to provide culturally safe smoking cessation support.

“The campaign to raise awareness of available quit support services could be used in other regions where smoking prevalence is high.”

This study is published in the Drug and Alcohol Review (DOI: 10.1111/dar.13499).

For more information on quitting smoking visit Quitline.