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Smoking-related illnesses cause half of all deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the age of 45, accounting for 10,000 premature preventable deaths in the past decade alone, a new study has found.

On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoked died 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Lead author on the paper Dr Katie Thurber said the smoking mortality study focused on Aboriginal people who had not, at the time of joining the 45 and up study between 2006 and 2009, been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or cancer. It then tracked their health outcomes over the next 10 years.