Smoking cessation interventions have typically focused on majority
populations who, in Australia, are English speaking. There has been
an overall decline in the prevalence of smoking in the Australian
community. However, there remains a relative paucity of useful
information about tobacco use and the effectiveness of tobacco
interventions among specific ethnic minorities.
To determine associations of tobacco use and tobacco control
indicators for Arabic speakers seen in the Australian general
A cross sectional study in a consecutive sample of Arabic patients
(n=1371) attending the practices of 29 Arabic speaking general
practitioners in Sydney, New South Wales.
Twenty-nine (53.7%) of 54 eligible Arabic speaking GPs in southwest
Sydney participated in this study. Of 1371 patients seen, 29.7%
were smokers. Smokers were more likely to report poorer health
(χ2=21.7, df=1, p<0.001); 35.7% reported high nicotine dependence.
Dependence was more in men (χ2=11.7, df=1, p<001) and those who
reported poorer health (χ2=4.9, df=1, p<0.03); 35.9% had attempted to
quit in the previous year; 17% were in preparation stage of change;
42.7% recalled quit advice. Poorer self reported health status
(AOR=2.13, 95% CI: 1.14-3.97, p=0.017) and unemployment (AOR=1.69,
95% CI: 1.51–4.90, p=0.033) were independent predictors of advice
from a health professional, most often a GP (71%).
Our study confirms previous reports that the proportion of self
reported current smokers among the Arabic community is higher than
for the Anglo-European majority. There is a need for ethno specific
campaigns in tobacco control.
Smoking cessation interventions have typically focused on majority populations who, in Australia, are English speaking. Although there has been an overall decline in the prevalence of smoking,1,2 there remains a relative paucity of useful information about tobacco use among specific ethnic minorities.3,4 In New South Wales, certain ethnic groups, as defined by their original country of birth outside of Australia, persistently exhibit high rates of smoking in population based studies compared with the Anglo-Celtic majority.5 Tobacco use persists in its social acceptability among people from Arabic background compared to communities more readily reached by tobacco control efforts.6–9 Arabic people consider smoking as a social activity and a form of entertainment which promotes relaxation.10–15 In addition, alternative sources of nicotine such as narghile (tobacco placed on coals and smoked through water via a pipe) have regained popularity in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the Indian subcontinent.16 In Australia, it appears that people from an Arabic background are less aware than the general population of the health risks of smoking.7,14 Our study was designed in collaboration with Arabic speaking general practitioners to further illuminate the scope for tobacco control among their patients.
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