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September 5, 2014


An article has appeared on The Conversation website titled "Should Australia lift its ban on e-cigarettes?" In this article, Wayne Hall (Professor and Director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland) debates Ross MacKenzie (Lecturer in Health Studies at Macquarie University) about the issue.  Wayne Hall outlines the arguments to lift the ban, because he believes that the ban stifles research into the possible public health benefits of e-cigarettes.  He argues for tight restrictions until such research is conducted, however he believes that the suppliers of e-cigarettes should be obliged to facilitate research.  

Read "Should Australia lift its ban on e-cigarettes?"

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November 29, 2013


The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services have published a resource titled "Smoking: 'But it's the least of their problems…' A Guide for Youth Workers and Youth Service Managers in Tasmania".  The guide contains information to support youth workers in helping young people to avoid commencing tobacco smoking and to assist those who are smoking to reduce or cease.  Working with young people who have significant substance issues, it is easy to see tobacco smoking as an issue to be dealt with down the track.  However tobacco is one of the most harmful substances and its use generally begins during adolescence.  Young people who are nicotine dependent can find themselves in risky situations trying to access tobacco by hitting up strangers or smoking "dumpers".  Tobacco smoking does need to be considered in youth work settings and this guide provides some great starting points in the conversation.

Download "Smoking: 'But it's the least of their problems…' A Guide for Youth Workers and Youth Service Managers in Tasmania" (3.5MB PDF)

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April 26, 2013


Electronic cigarettes are increasing in popularity, yet there remains gaps in our understanding of the potential risks or benefits.  The Library of the European Parliament have developed an excellent summary of the available information on these products, which will be useful for workers who may come across young people who use these devices.  Electronic cigarettes work by vaporising a liquid which contains nicotine and sometimes flavouring agents.  There is currently debate as to whether they constitute a valid harm reduction tool for cigarette smokers.  While there is evidence that the vapour is much less harmful than cigarette smoke, some believe that E-cigarettes might become a pathway into cigarette smoking and therefore increase harm.  Also, given the wide range of products available, there have been some concerns about quality control.

Download the "Electronic Cigarette Briefing" here. (625KB PDF)

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March 8, 2013


The Lowitja Institute alongside the Menzies School of Health Research have published a research report titled "Starting to Smoke: Experiences of Indigenous Youth".  The report considers the factors which influence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to commence smoking. We know from previous research that most smokers commence smoking in adolescence, and that 42% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-24 smoke tobacco.  For this report, 65 young people aged 13 - 20 from urban and remote contexts were interviewed to understand their experience of smoking.  In-depth interviews were conducted with 11 participants, who also were given cameras to document their experience of tobacco smoking in their daily lives.  The research reveals the role of family influence in smoking.  Households that banned smoking indoors, for example, had lower rates of smoking.  Conversely, in households where tobacco smoking was ubiquitous, access to tobacco, role modelling and smoking socialisation combined to contribute to early commencement of smoking.

Download "Starting to Smoke: Experiences of Indigenous Youth".  (1.2MB PDF)

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October 12, 2012


The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have published an updated version of their "Supporting Smoking Cessation: A Guide for Health Professionals".  The guide reviews the available research for various smoking cessation strategies and provides recommendations based on the evidence.  It includes a chapter on smoking cessation in special populations which includes a section on smoking cessation in adolescents and young people.  The guide recommends counselling as the most effective evidence-based treatment for smoking in young people, and advises that nicotine replacement therapy (eg patches, chewing gum etc) should be used with caution.  While nicotine replacement therapy has been shown to be safe in adolescents, the report finds little evidence that nicotine replacement therapy is effective in promoting long term smoking cessation in young people.

Go to "Supporting Smoking Cessation: A Guide for Health Professionals"

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August 10, 2012


A recent issue of Croakey (the health blog of news site Crikey) looked at the social fault lines which are opening up around cigarette smoking.  Associate Professor Billie Bonevski and Professor Amanda Baker demonstrate that while smoking rates have continued to decline over the last decade, it has become more and more apparent that rates of smoking differ across socio-economic groups.  The Victorian Smoking Prevalence study found rates of smoking were 11% in higher socio-economic postcodes, while in lower socio-economic postcodes saw rates at  16-18%.  When focusing in on more specific groups, the margins become even wider.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have high rates of smoking - up to 50% in some estimates, while 37% of single parents smoke and 60% of people who receive welfare services from non-government agencies smoke.  The authors call for a social justice approach to continue to reduce smoking rates into the future.

Read "Smoking is a social justice issue"

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July 27, 2011


The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was conducted between late-April and early-September 2010. This was the 10th survey in a series which began in 1985, and was the fifth to be managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). More than 26,000 people aged 12 years or older participated in the survey, in which they were asked about their knowledge of and attitudes towards drugs, their drug consumption histories, and related behaviours.

The Survey report shows positive and significant reductions since 2007 in daily tobacco smoking; mixed findings on alcohol consumption and risk; and a small overall rise in illicit drug use. In terms of attitudes to drugs, excessive alcohol use and tobacco smoking were nominated as the two most serious concerns to the community - and there were higher levels of support than previously for tobacco and alcohol harm reduction policies.

For more information or to review the report, visit the AIHW website here: AIHW National Drug Stategy Household Survey 2010 Report

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