Aboriginal Peoples ► Background
It should be recognized by healthcare providers that tobacco has played an important part in traditional and spiritual practices in many Aboriginal communities. Traditionally tobacco was used by many First Nations for ceremonial and medicinal purposes and is still practiced across many First Nations.
However, it is well documented that mis-use/abuse of tobacco is of growing concern not only to the general Canadian population, but as well as to First Nations. For example, studies have demonstrated that smoking rates amongst First Nations peoples are more than double that of the general Canadian population. Furthermore, it has been documented that within First Nations populations, there are instances of smoking beginning as early as 6-8 years with an increase in uptake between the ages of 10-12, and peaking at 16 years of age. The relevance of targeting children/youth within this population is therefore evident.
Not only are rates of smoking higher in this population, but the poorer health status of First Nations people in Canada has also been well documented in the literature which together points to significantly higher rates of smoking related illnesses in this population.
There is limited evidence available demonstrating effective strategies for smoking cessation within Aboriginal populations. It should be noted that this does not suggest weak evidence of effective strategies within this population, but rather, a limited amount of research available (see Research Gaps section). However, generally those strategies which are effective for the general Canadian population should be considered effective within Aboriginal peoples. One recent Canadian study provides evidence that quitlines are an effective option for Aboriginal populations1.
Cultural adaptations should also be considered to tailor interventions for this population. Similarly, all interventions must consider the spiritual and traditional role within the culture and acknowledge other barriers to smoking cessation with the First Nations population such as the concurrent high rates of drug use and alcohol consumption.
1. Lynda M Hayward, H Sharon Campbell, Carol Sutherland-Brown. Aboriginal users of Canadian quitlines: an exploratory analysis. Tob Control 2007;16:i60-i64.