Growing the Smoke Free Generation

Page last updated: 05 January 2017

State / Territory

Northern Territory

Funded Organisation

Northern Territory Department of Health

Program Objectives

The project is a multicomponent smoking cessation support program, targeting 10 – 18 year olds in two remote Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land, NT.

The project will provide direct service delivery to a population identified as being a high priority for local tobacco control activities.

It is a peer lead intervention, which seeks to engage young people with health services that support tobacco cessation and to change their peers’ views about smoking. These peer leaders will be part of an integrated service response delivering holistic smoking cessation support, and they will receive accredited training to develop their skills and knowledge.

Development of family and community strategies that aim to restrict access to tobacco by young people will be implemented to assist shifting the social norms in the context of very high smoking prevalence.

Key expected outcomes for the project are:
  • more accurate estimates of smoking prevalence among the target population;
  • increased number of quit attempts among young people;
  • a shift in norms amongst youth towards non-smoking; and
  • an increased number of smoke free homes and restricted access to tobacco.

Target group/area

The target group for the project is all 10 - 18 year olds with resident status in two remote communities – Maningrida and Gunbalanya – Arnhem Land, Top End, NT. This represents a sample size of approximately 900 eligible participants.

Research questions/objectives

The project will focus on improving tobacco cessation support for young, at risk Indigenous youth, and enhance resources to existing Primary Health Care (PHC) services in a response to community demands for a focus on young people and a desire for action to address access to tobacco.

The project will provide an in-depth understanding of both the prevalence and nature of youth smoking in the participating communities, and detailed qualitative and quantitative information about the impact of targeted interventions.

The three research questions being addressed are:
  • Does a peer-Ied tobacco cessation support intervention lead to increased engagement with tobacco cessation services?
  • What works when integrating youth tobacco cessation support into holistic service delivery?
  • How can tobacco supply be restricted for youth under 18 years?

Experimental design

The engagement of peer leaders/researchers is designed to facilitate strong engagement with youth at high risk of smoking, and their families. It will enhance both health promotion and related activities and have a population impact. It will enhance clinical service delivery to become youth focussed.

The community-oriented actions are expected to have indirect benefits by increasing the number of smoke-free homes (thereby decreasing second-hand smoke exposure), and a flow on effect to influence adult smokers to quit. By trialling community-wide approaches to reducing youth access to tobacco, it is also expected to have an empowering impact on communities who currently do not feel well-equipped to tackle youth smoking in their community.

The influence of trained peer leaders on young smokers will be studied; including the feasibility of recruiting and training peer leaders to increase their future options for employment. The project will provide an understanding of what works towards integrating youth tobacco cessation support into Health Checks for young people.

Other measures of effectiveness will be observed in changing social norms of smoking among young persons, and in the families of young smokers.

With tobacco use the highest cancer risk factor for Indigenous Australians (Indigenous Cancer Risk factors, AIHW, 2011), a cessation or reduction from smoking at a young age will greatly reduce life time cancer risk and increase life expectancy.