Most of our mob know the health effects of tobacco and currently more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are non-smokers than smokers. This article provides self-care tips to keep our mob strong in mind, body and spirit.

Tips if you smoke, vape or chew quid

Sometimes we feel shame if we are not ready to quit tobacco, vaping or chewing quid. Quitting is a process and health workers will not pressure you into quitting but are there to support you.

Regular doctor and dentist visits

You may not notice the effects of smoking. People who smoke are more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers. There is also a greater risk of mouth cancer, heart and lung disease, financial stress, problems with pregnancy, diabetes and coronavirus.

Visit your doctor and dentist at least once or twice a year for a full check-up so any problems can be addressed early so you have a better chance of recovery to health. Getting your teeth cleaned by a dentist helps avoid tooth loss caused by tooth decay and gum disease by removing germs on the teeth.

If a tooth is removed

If a tooth needs to be removed from the mouth, smoking can increase the risk of a complication called dry socket. A dry socket is where the tissue that was holding the tooth in the mouth stops healing properly. This can be very painful. It is important to not smoke for as long as possible after having a tooth removed.

Do not smoke inside the house or car

What you breathe out, our family breathes in. Second-hand smoke contains poisons that risk our health. Breathing in second-hand smoke is risky to everyone, but especially children and pregnant women.

Chewing quid

Quid is a mixture of Australian bush tobacco leaf, ash, and saliva. Bush tobacco (also known as Pituri, Pitjuri and Mingkulpa) is native to Australia and used in some Aboriginal communities to treat bites and sores and may be gifted to loved ones. What many of our mob might not know is that bush tobacco is a tobacco plant, and it can be harmful to our health, the same as tobacco bought from shops.

Stop the spread of COVID-19

Keep our mob safe and protect our Elders by not sharing your smokes and not smoking used cigarette butts.

Read more about smoking and vaping.

Reasons to quit

The traditional smoking ceremony cleanses and strengthens our spirit, keeping us connected and healthy. Tobacco and vaping are not part of our culture and they weaken our body, mind, and spirit. Smoking is the most preventable cause of poor health and early death among our mob.

There are many benefits of quitting smokes. Quitting is tricky at first but the longer you are smoke free, the easier it can get.

It is important to remember the benefits of quitting smoking, like improving your health and saving money. It is never too late to quit. The benefits of quitting smoking at different ages is explained by in the below table.

Smoking and COVID-19

In the video below Professor Tom Calma AO explains why it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit smoking.

Tips for giving up the smokes

As First Nations people we are strong and resilient. Our culture is the oldest living culture on earth. We are strong through our connections to ancestors, family, community and Country. Call upon your connections to help you quit and stay quit. Giving up tobacco, vaping or bush tobacco is tough. But it is never too late to quit. Even if you have smoked for many years, it is possible to quit and it will improve your health. Check out five tips to help you quit.

Tip 1: Have a yarn

Keep connected with family, friends and people in your community that can help and support you to make changes. When we are strong we keep our family, community and Country strong. Yarn with friends, family and Elders that don’t smoke or have quit smoking to get tips and support for when you quit.

Aboriginal health workers and other health professionals are there to help and support you. Giving up smokes is tough, and they will not judge, shame, criticise or pressure you. Have a yarn over the phone to Aboriginal Quitline and visit your local health worker about how to stop or cut down your use in safe ways.

Call Aboriginal Quitline

Call 13 78 48 (13 QUIT) and ask to speak with an Aboriginal Quitline Advisor to have a confidential yarn about how to give up the smokes and manage cravings.

Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales
  • Monday to Friday, 7.00am-10.30pm AEST
  • Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays, 9.00am-5.00pm AEST.
Northern Territory and South Australia
  • Monday to Friday, 8.30am-8.00pm ACST
  • Saturday 2.00pm-5.00pm.
  • Sunday and public holidays, closed.
  • Available 7 days a week, 8.00am-9.00pm AEST (public holidays may affect these hours).
  • Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm AEST
  • Saturday to Sunday, closed.
  • Monday to Friday, 8.00am-8.00pm AEST
  • Saturday to Sunday, closed
  • Callers can text 'call back' to 13 78 48 to receive a call back.
Western Australia
  • Monday to Friday, 8.30am-6.30pm AWST
  • Saturday to Sunday, closed
  • Callers can text 0477 765 007 to receive a call back.

Tip 2: Create a quit plan

Giving up smokes may take many tries before you are successful. Some things might work, and others may not. Take a step-by-step approach to build a quit plan just for you by using the free online tools below.


QuitCoach is a free online tool to help create and stick to a quit plan made just for you. QuitCoach can be used with QuitTxt.
Sign up for QuitCoach.

iCanQuit is a free online tool that allows you to create a quit plan made just for you, share and read tips around quitting smoking, and be part of a supportive community.
Sign up for iCanQuit.


Tip 3: Know your triggers

It is important to know what might make us want to smoke. This might be smells, gatherings, places, or emotions like feeling anxious or down. The first two weeks are the hardest so think about:

  • Spending time with friends that do not smoke.
  • Delaying BBQs and parties until you feel more in control of your cravings.
  • Make your car and home smoke free zones.


Tip 4: Manage cravings

Staying quit is the hard part of the journey. Take each day at a time. If you slip up, do not give up. It may take many goes to quit. Take your mind off craving the next smoke and go for a walk or have a healthy snack.

To help reduce cravings and withdrawals you can use nicotine patches, gum and stop smoking medications. Have a yarn to your AMS health worker or doctor about these products because you may be eligible to get them at a lower cost.


Tip 5: Keep motivated

Your health worker can refer you to support programs in your local area to help you stay on track. Find an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Service near you here.

There are also online programs or mobile phone apps that can help you quit. Easily access QuitTxt or Quitly services using your mobile phone.


QuitTxt is an interactive SMS program to help you prepare to quit, maintain motivation and stay on track after you quit. It takes around 5-10 minutes to sign up. Sign up for QuitTxt.


A free chatbot on Facebook Messenger asks you a few questions to help motivate you to quit, maintain motivation and manage smoking triggers. Search for in Facebook messenger or head over to to get started.

Mobile phone apps can also help to keep you motivated through the process of quitting. There are many different apps to help you give up the smokes and keep motivated and focused once you do. Check out some apps to help you quit smoking below.

My Quitbuddy 

A free app providing games to distract you from cravings and motivational tools such as a live map of your body to show how your health is improving.
Find the app in the Apple Store or on Google Play.

Smoke Free 

A free app providing tools to manage your cravings by monitoring when they occur and rewarding your achievements.
Find the app in the Apple Store or on Google Play.

essica Simpson
About the Author
Dr Isabella Evans

As a proud Wiradjuri-Ngunnawal woman my culture is sacred to me, from a long time ago when my great grandmother was born at Mangrove Creek (paternal) and when my great grandmother swam the Avon River on GunaiKurnai Country (maternal), to the present day and forever into the future.
I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians throughout Australia, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

View All Articles