Associate Professor Marita Hefler
Principal Research Fellow
PhD, University of Sydney, 2017; Master of Public Health, UNSW, 2004; Graduate Diploma International Social Development, UNSW, 2003; Bachelor of Asian Studies, ANU 1998
Approved level of HDR supervision at Charles Darwin University:
Principal Supervisor for PhD
Darwin – Royal Darwin Hospital campus
Marita’s research program within the Global and Tropical Health Division focuses on paradigm-shifting tobacco control policy and ‘endgame’ strategies such as phasing out commercial sales of cigarettes. She has broad experience in tobacco control research, including use of social media to reduce smoking among First Nations peoples, smoke free prisons, youth smoking and monitoring tobacco industry activities. Achieving equity in smoking prevalence reductions is a high priority in her work.
Marita has particular expertise in qualitative research approaches, monitoring and evaluation. She has designed and led several research projects and evaluations of public health programs in partnership with Australian Indigenous communities and previously in South East Asia. Her sectoral experience spans mental health, lifecourse approaches to understanding health trajectories and disparities, youth health, health communication and justice.
Since joining Menzies, Marita has contributed to over $7 million in research and consultancy funding, including a Heart Foundation Australia Post-Doctoral Fellowship and two National Health & Medical Research Council-funded projects. She is a Senior Editor, and was previously the News Editor, for the BMJ specialist publication Tobacco Control.
Marita has prepared curriculum and delivered training and teaching in a range of other contexts, both online and face-to-face, from entry-level vocational and workplace-based training through to postgraduate level. She currently co-supervises five PhD students and two masters research project students and also teaches in Menzies Postgraduate Public Health programs for CDU.
- Indigenous health
- Smoking, alcohol, drugs and other addictive behaviours
- Tobacco Control
- Preventive Health
- Aboriginal Birth Cohort Study
- Qualitative Research
- Tane, M. P., Hefler, M., & Thomas, D. P. (2019). Smokefree leadership among the Yolŋu peoples of East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory: a qualitative study. Global Health Promotion, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1177/1757975919829405
- Hefler, M., Kerrigan, V., Freeman, B., Boot, G. R., & Thomas, D. P. (2019). Using Facebook to reduce smoking among Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: A participatory grounded action study. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 1-21. . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6918-7, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889- 019-6918-7
- Thomas, D. P., Hefler, M., Bonevski, B., Calma, T., Carapetis, J., Chamberlain, C., ... Wakefield, M. (2018). Australian researchers oppose funding from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 42(6), 506-507. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12861
- Watts, C., Hefler, M., & Freeman, B. (2019). ‘We have a rich heritage and, we believe, a bright future’: how transnational tobacco companies are using Twitter to oppose policy and shape their public identity. Tobacco Control, 28(2), 227-232. https://doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2017-054188https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/28/2/227
- Hefler, M., Kerrigan, V., Henryks, J., Freeman, B., Thomas, DP., (2018) Social media and health information sharing among Australian Indigenous people. Health Promotion International, 1-10, doi:10.1093/heapro/day018. https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/34/4/706/4973719
- Hefler, M., (2018) The changing nicotine product landscape: time to outlaw sales of combustible tobacco products? Tobacco Control, ;27(1):1-2 doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2017-053969. https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/27/1/1
- Tane, M. P., Hefler, M., & Thomas, D. P. (2018). An evaluation of the ‘Yaka Ŋarali’’ Tackling Indigenous Smoking program in East Arnhem Land: Yolŋu people and their connection to ŋarali’. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 29(1), 10-17. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.1
- Hefler, M., & Carter, S. M. (2019). Smoking to fit a stigmatised identity? A qualitative study of marginalised young people in Australia. Health, 23(3), 306–324. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363459317745690
- Hefler, M., Liberato, S. C., Thomas, D. P., (2017) Incentives for preventing smoking in children and adolescents. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (6). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008645.pub3. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008645.pub3/full
- Hefler, M., Hopkins, R., & Thomas, D. P. (2016). Successes and unintended consequences of the Northern Territory's smoke-free prisons policy: Results from a process evaluation. Public Health Research and Practice, 26(2), [e2621619]. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp262161/>
Click here to view more Marita Hefler publications in PubMed, ResearchGate and ORCID profile
‘Total ban’: could this be the last generation of smokers?
Associate Professor Marita Hefler says It’s a lazy argument to say that ‘prohibition never works’ or to use the US experiment from the 1920s or even the ‘war on drugs’ as evidence.
Voice of Islam | World Health Day 2022: Our Planet and our Health - Impacts of smoking
Professor Marita Hefler was a guest on the program to discuss tobacco’s effects on human health and the environment.
Push for Australian government to ban cigarette retail sales
Senior Researcher Menzies School of Health Research, Dr Marita Hefler, says tobacco availability should be “drastically reduced”.
Expert calls for complete cigarette ban in 10 years time
Senior Researcher at the Menzies School of Health Research Dr Marita Hefler says there also needs to be a plan in place to help retailers deal with declining cigarette sales.
Media Statement | World No Tobacco Day: Time for governments to phase out cigarette sales
This World No Tobacco Day, 148 health organisations have signed an open letter calling on governments to work towards phasing out commercial cigarette sales.
LETTER: 148 ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR PHASING OUT SALES OF COMBUSTIBLE TOBACCO PRODUCTS
The lessons learned in 2020 from the bold actions taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic provide an opportunity to consider equally bold actions that will be required to tackle other global health pandemics.
Restricting sales to pharmacies proposed
The Centre for Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame (CREATE) will involve researchers from 11 institutions with the aim of phasing out smoking for good.
No stigma for smoking among Yolngu people in East Arnhem Land
A public health study into the effectiveness of tobacco control strategies in East Arnhem Land has found no evidence of smoking-related stigma among Yolngu people.
The tobacco industry in the time of COVID-19: time to shut it down?
The world will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic changed. Phasing out cigarette sales would be an enormous long-term gain for public health.
NT's high smoking rate sparks calls to ease vaping laws
Menzies School of Health head of tobacco research David Thomas said there simply was not enough evidence about the potential health benefits.
NT News | NT Government events to go completely smoke free
NT Tobacco Control Action Committee chairman David Thomas said the plan placed special emphasis on reducing harm for Aboriginal Territorians, who suffered the greatest burden from tobacco use.
Territorians Health a Priority as new Tobacco Action plan launched on World No-Tobacco Day
The Territory Government has released its plan to improve the health of all Territorians by reducing the harm caused by tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke, and to prevent uptake by young people.
NT News | Sharing health message on FB
NT News | Sharing health message on FB
Media release | Feel-good social media posts more likely to encourage healthy behaviour
Positive health-related social media posts that provide new information are more likely to be shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to encourage healthy behaviours, a study has found.
Let’s quit being idiots
The time has come to think seriously about the impact smoking has on us - NT News Opinion Jill Poulsen.
Top doctor calls for total ban on cigarettes, switch to e-cigarettes
Menzies School of Health researcher Dr Marita Hefler says the rapid evolution of alternative nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes, meant outlawing combustible tobacco, including cigarettes, was now possible.
Call to ban durries in Oz
NT academic says outlawing smokes is not impossible THE rise in popularity of ecigarettes could open the door to a legislated ban on the sale of cigarettes, according to a Northern Territory academic.
Is it time to outlaw cigarette sales in Australia?
In a commentary published in the international journal Tobacco Control, Dr Marita Hefler said “The ongoing availability of cigarettes is an historical anomaly. Any other consumer product that kills up to two-thirds of its long-term users remaining legal is unimaginable.”
Facebook could help lower Indigenous smoking rates
Indigenous people have the highest rates of smoking in the country, but researchers in the Top End believe Facebook could be the most effective way of helping them quit.
Facebook could help lower Indigenous smoking rates, ABC TV
Smoking causes 1/5 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many social media tobacco control campaigns exist, but there is minimal understanding of their effectiveness.
The evaluation of Northern Territory’s smoke-free prison policy: successes and unexpected results
An evaluation of the Northern Territory’s smoke free prison policy has been published today in the online journal, Public Health Research & Practice.
Jails escape worst link to smokes ban
TERRITORY prisons have escaped the worst of tobacco black markets, violence and low compliance rates that researchers have penned as problems amid smoking bans in southern states, an expert has said.