Smoking causes half of indigenous deaths over age of 45: Australian study
Half of indigenous Australians over the age of 45 had died from smoking-related illnesses, a study found.
The study published by Australian National University (ANU) researchers on Monday found that smoking caused 10,000 preventable deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the last decade.
On average, indigenous Australians who smoked died 10 years earlier than those who did not.
The study tracked the health outcomes of 1,388 indigenous Australians who at the time of joining the study had not been diagnosed with cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Researchers found that smoking causes 37 percent of all deaths of indigenous Australians and half of those of people aged 45 and over.
"The results are shocking - smoking is killing one in two older adults, and we found smokers have four times the risk of early death compared to those who have never smoked," lead author Katie Thurber said. "It's close to double what the previous estimates were."
Approximately 40 percent of indigenous adults said they were smokers in 2019, down from 54.5 percent in 1994.
Raymond Lovett, an indigenous man and co-author of the study, said the high rate of smoking stemmed back to the colonial practice of paying indigenous workers in rations including tobacco.
"If you worked, particularly in rural areas, you were paid in tobacco. That has got a large part to play in why smoking rates are so high," he said.
"And it actually becomes a source of a call to action in community-controlled health services and different communities. The way we talk about tobacco as a colonial process, linking tobacco to those colonial processes, because some people have forgotten about that, particularly young people."