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Open Access Research article

A survey of smoking prevalence and interest in quitting among social and community service organisation clients in Australia: a unique opportunity for reaching the disadvantaged

Jamie Bryant1*, Billie Bonevski1 and Christine Paul2

Author Affiliations

1 Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, School of Medicine & Public Health, University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute. Room 230A, Level 2, David Maddison Building, Callaghan, NSW, 2308, Australia

2 Health Behaviour Research Group, Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, School of Medicine & Public Health, University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute. Room 268 Level 2, David Maddison Building, Callaghan, NSW, 2308, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:827  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-827

Published: 26 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Social and community service organisations (SCSOs) are non-government, not-for-profit organisations that provide welfare services to disadvantaged individuals. SCSOs hold considerable potential for providing smoking cessation support to disadvantaged smokers. This study aimed to establish the prevalence of smoking, interest in quitting and interest in receiving cessation support amongst clients accessing SCSOs.

Methods

Clients seeking financial or material assistance from three SCSOs in NSW, Australia, between February and October 2010 were invited to complete a 60-item general health touch screen computer survey. This included questions about smoking status, past quit attempts and interest in receiving support to quit smoking from SCSO staff.

Results

A total of 552 clients were approached to participate during the study period, of which 383 provided consent and completed the survey (69% consent rate). Daily smoking was reported by 53.5% of participants. Occasional smoking (non-daily smoking) was reported by a further 7.9% of participants. Most participants had tried to quit smoking in the past (77%) and had made an average of two quit attempts (SD = 3.2) lasting longer than 24 hours in the previous 12 months. More than half of all participants (52.8%) reported that they would like help from SCSO staff to quit smoking. For those interested in receiving help, the preferred types of help were access to free NRT (77%), cash rewards (52%) and non-cash rewards (47%) for quitting, and to receive support and encouragement from SCSO staff to quit (45%).

Conclusions

Smoking rates among clients accessing SCSO are substantially higher than the general population rate of 15.1%. A substantial proportion of clients are interested in quitting and want support from the SCSO to do so.