Background and Context:
Smoking is one of the major markers of and contributors to social disadvantage in Victoria. The prevalence of smoking is significantly higher among people on low income, particularly those who face multiple personal and social difficulties and challenges. In late 2012 Quit Victoria extended its focus on high smoking rate groups, in addition to continuing population level work.
Quit Victoria in partnership with the community sector seeks to reduce smoking prevalence and behaviours in high smoking rate groups to reduce tobacco related health, social and economic disparities.
Quit Victoria’s strategy was to contribute to, and localise the smoking as a social justice issue narrative. Mutually beneficial partnerships with community sector agencies were formed. Quit’s messages were reframed to a softer ‘smoking care’ approach, which was consistent with stronger community voice elements in projects.
Priority populations were initially identified based on the level of leadership support within the community sector, a capacity to implement, and the acuity of need. Quit gathered evidence and practice wisdom from other jurisdictions to inform planning. Interventions were tailored to the setting- they are light, highly practical and responsive to dynamic environments.
Outcomes/What was learned:
Quit Victoria learned that smoking cessation activities can be connected to other areas of shared mission and values beyond health. It was important to make the process of joining forces at partnership, project, and evaluation levels as easy as possible. This was balanced against a need for strong organisational commitment and ownership across partners, and a recognition that partnerships need time to develop. As a driver and a complement to local partnership work, policy and advocacy work should be advanced to address systemic barriers such as access to NRT, and attitudes to smokefree environments in the community sector.