• Open Access

Lessons for Aboriginal tobacco control in remote communities: an evaluation of the Northern Territory ‘Tobacco Project’


Correspondence to:
Dr David Thomas, Menzies School of Health Research, PO Box 41096, Casuarina, NT 0810; and Institute of Advanced Studies, Charles Darwin University, NT. Fax: (08) 8927 5187; e-mail: david.thomas@menzies.edu.au


Objective: To evaluate a Northern Territory (NT) government-led pilot ‘Tobacco Project’ in six remote communities.

Methods: Monthly surveys of staff, semi-structured interviews with staff and community members, observation of the delivery of tobacco control interventions, review of Project documents, and monitoring of tobacco consumption using sales (or wholesale orders) of tobacco.

Results: There was a substantive amount of tobacco control activity delivered in three of the Project communities. In two of these locations, the majority of work was primarily driven and undertaken by resident staff. Overall, most of the Project's efforts related to community education and awareness-raising. There was variable impact of the Project on tobacco consumption across the six communities. More tobacco control activity was consistently associated with a greater reduction in tobacco consumption. An important predictor of local activity was the presence of strong community drivers. A significant obstacle to the Project was the lack of new resources.

Conclusions: Despite the minimal impact of this Project on tobacco consumption overall, there was a consistent association between on-the-ground tobacco control activity and reductions in tobacco consumption.

Implications: New initiatives will not only need to provide new funding, but identify and then support local staff, who are central to improving local tobacco control activity and so reducing smoking and smoking-related illnesses and deaths.