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Journal of Addiction
Volume 2013, Article ID 516342, 9 pages
Research Article

Smoking and Other Drug Characteristics of Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Prisoners in Australia

1School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Sydney, Australia
2Centre for Health Research in Criminal Justice, Justice Health, University of New South Wales, Suite 302, Level 2, 152 Bunnerong Road, Pagewood, NSW 2035, Australia
3National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Sydney, Australia
4School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Faces in the Street, St. Vincent's Health Urban Mental Health Research, St Vincent's Hospital, Level 4, O'Brien Centre, St Vincent's Hospital, 390 Victoria Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia
5Alcohol and Drug Service, St. Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010, Australia

Received 15 November 2012; Revised 1 March 2013; Accepted 10 March 2013

Academic Editor: Karen Cropsey

Copyright © 2013 Robyn L. Richmond et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction and Aim. Although tobacco and alcohol use have declined substantially in the Australian community, substance use among prisoners remains high. The aim was to compare the smoking, drug, and alcohol characteristics, sociodemographic profile, and general health of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal male prisoners in a smoking cessation intervention. Design and Methods. This study was a descriptive cross-sectional analysis of data from 425 male prisoners who joined a quit smoking trial conducted at 18 correctional centres in NSW and Queensland using data collected by standardised self-report instruments. Results. Average age was 33 years with 15% from Aboriginal descent. Compared to non-Aboriginal prisoners, Aboriginal prisoners were significantly more likely to have left school with no qualifications, to have been institutionalised as a child, to be previously incarcerated, and commenced smoking at a younger age. The tobacco use profile of both groups was similar; most of them had a medium to high level of nicotine dependence, smoked roll your own tobacco, and were “serious” about quitting. Discussion and Conclusion. Despite differences in terms of sociodemographic characteristics and offending history, the smoking characteristics of Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal prisoners were similar. Incarceration offers an opportunity to encourage smoking cessation and reduction of drug use.