New research reveals that while the indigenous population smoke half as many cigarettes as those in the broader community, they still suffer far higher rates of smoking-related illness.
Associate Professor David Thomas from Darwin’s Menzies School of Health analysed bar-coded sales recorded of all cigarettes sold in 2007 at stores in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia.
He found that even though half the adult Aboriginal population smoke compared to 16.6 per cent nationwide, the lower number consumed daily ‘busts the myth’ that indigenous people are heavily addicted.
The research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health revealed that indigenous people at APY smoked an average of six to eight cigarettes a day, while people from the wider Australian community smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day, while this number rose to 17 in low-income areas.
Despite the lower cigarette consumption, indigenous people are more likely to suffer from smoking related illnesses with one in five Aborigines dying early due to smoking.
“They (the federal government) have committed $100 million to Aboriginal tobacco control as part of the close the gap campaign. Now we need the research evidence to guide what that money is spent on”, said Thomas.
“One sixth of the health gap is due to smoking, it’s not as obvious a killer as grog, or it’s not as socially destructive as grog, but it kills one in five Aboriginal people,” said Thomas.
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