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Aboriginal health leaders say changes to tobacco packaging are a small step in the battle to reduce smoking rates and close the gap.
Mr Justin Mohamed, Chair of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO), welcomed the decision of the High Court of Australia to reject the legal challenge by big tobacco companies, but cautioned that changes in packaging would have only minor impact in reducing the current Aboriginal smoking rate of 47%.
'Tobacco smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of premature death amongst Aboriginal people, impacting on the health of individuals and contributing to the devastation of our communities,' Mr Mohamed said.
'It accounts for one out of every five (20%) of deaths among Aboriginal Australians and for 17% of the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Tobacco-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease account for one third of all deaths.'
Mr Mohamed explained it is important to understand that smoking is not a single issue for Aboriginal people, but is interwoven with other factors such as poverty, low levels of education, lack of employment opportunities, poor nutrition, disempowerment and stress.
Source: naccho communique
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