Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International (APRCi)

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Health, Risk & Society



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While Australia is considered a world leader in tobacco control, smoking rates within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population have not declined at the same rate. This failure highlights an obvious shortcoming of mainstream anti- smoking efforts to effectively understand and engage with the socio-cultural context of Indigenous smoking and smoking cessation experiences. The purpose of this article is to explore the narrative accounts of 20 Indigenous ex-smokers within an urban community and determine the motivators and enablers for successful smoking cessation. Our findings indicated that health risk narratives and the associated social stigma produced through anti-smoking campaigns formed part of a broader apparatus of oppression among Indigenous people, often inspiring resistance and resentment rather than compliance. Instead, a significant life event and supportive relationships were the most useful predictors of successful smoking cessation acting as both a motivator and enabler to behavioural change. Indigenous smoking cessation narratives most commonly involved changing and reordering a person’s life and identity and autonomy over this process was the critical building block to reclaiming control over nicotine addiction. Most promisingly, at an individual level, we found the important role that individual health professionals played in encouraging and supporting Indigenous smoking cessation through positive rather than punitive interactions. More broadly, our findings highlighted the central importance of resilience, empowerment and trust within health promotion practice.

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