Racism leads to many horrible things in this world, including the growing number of young Black folks who light up cigarettes. African-American youth are 80 percent more likely to take up smoking before the age of 16, a new study revealed.
The startling statistic indicates what most in the Black community already know is a true fact: racism can kill you. Academic researchers at King’s College London just looked into a particular way that racial abuse can strike and harm folks with their findings. They interviewed 6,500 pupils between ages 11 to 13 across 51 London schools, collecting data which shows that those who experience more racism are more likely to have more toxic stress. Thus, they turn to destructive coping mechanisms such as smoking.
“These findings highlight the role of racism as an important social determinant of health,” said lead author Dr. Ursula Read, part of the Determinants of young Adult Social well-being and Health (DASH) study, said to The Independent.
The study, which presents some “water is wet” facts that are no secret among Black folks, does a solid job of telling the world that Black health matters. Researchers’ findings show others that Black mental health is comprised by racism, and this problem should be addressed. Officials encourage family and friends of Black smokers to get involved and lead interventions to combat racism, with the data associating strong family ties with a smaller likelihood of smoking.
Public health groups are instrumental in the fight to end racism-related smoking, researchers said. Groups must weigh and consider the “impact of these health-harming behaviors when making future policy.”
Religion was also considered by researchers, as the study found less than 20 percent of ethnic minority participants reported no religious affiliations, UCL reported. Hopefully, this study can start some constructive conversations where people can address racism and the biases that give it life.