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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2012 Jul;31(5):723-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2012.00460.x. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

What has fairness got to do with it? Tackling tobacco among Australia's disadvantaged.

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Tobacco Control Unit, Cancer Council NSW, Sydney, Australia.



While population wide smoking rates are falling steadily the rates remain high among the disadvantaged. The future we face is one where the differentials in smoking rates will continue to widen and will flow through to increased health inequalities.


How best to reduce smoking rates among the disadvantaged? Alongside existing population level initiatives and social policy initiatives is an urgent need for a targeted, comprehensive approach that acknowledges the serious impact of smoking on the disadvantaged. In 2006 Cancer Council NSW embarked on a statewide, multi-component Tackling Tobacco Program to encourage and support non-government social and community services to address smoking among their clients.


Tackling Tobacco Program results have shown that the 1600 staff from 400 organisations trained to provide smoking care can attain the knowledge and confidence to address tobacco and that clients are very receptive to receiving quit support from them. Improvements in quality of life for clients who do quit have been encouraging and the Tackling Tobacco Program has challenged assumptions and attitudes that disadvantaged people are uninterested and unable to quit.


Alongside population and social policy approaches must be a serious investment in tackling smoking among the disadvantaged.


Tackling Tobacco Program is an innovative example of how to engage disadvantaged smokers, de-normalise smoking and encourage and support quitting using familiar settings. Engaging Australia's large network of social and community services as allies in this work should be vigorously pursued.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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