The aim of the ‘Starting to Smoke’ project was to explore the determinants of smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with a particular emphasis on the social and cultural processes that underlie tobacco use patterns among this group. The research found that:

  • Family and peer influence play a central role in smoking initiation among Indigenous youth.
  • Social influences to smoke are similar between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth but are more pervasive (especially in the family domain) among Indigenous youth.
  • While Indigenous youth report high levels of exposure to smoking role models and smoking socialisation practices among their family and social networks, this study provides some encouraging evidence of a progressive denormalisation of smoking among some Indigenous youth.
  • Future initiatives aimed at preventing smoking uptake in this population need to focus on changing social normative beliefs around smoking, both at a population level and within young peoples’ immediate social environment. Such interventions could be effectively delivered in both the school and family environments.
  • Measures to continue to denormalise smoking and to support families to provide clear anti-smoking socialisation messages to youth should contribute to reducing smoking uptake in this population.
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