According to the SA Medical Research Council (MRC), “the analysis of nearly half-a-million death records found the highest tobacco-related mortality was in the coloured population group,” Health 24 reports.
In this group, smoking causes one in four of all deaths in middle-aged men and one in six of all deaths in middle-aged women.
The report states the study found that the black population accounted for more than half of all the deaths from smoking in South Africa, because of its larger numbers.
“At present, the death rate from smoking is not yet as high in the black African population as in the white or coloured population, but the researchers warn that this is likely to change if the large numbers of young black African adults who now smoke continue to do so,” Health 24 reports.
The study, which the MRC said was published in a research article in the British medical journal The Lancet last week, also found that between the ages of 35 and 64, the excess risk of death among smokers was greater in the coloured than in the white population.
South Africa is the first to record to record smoking on death registration forms
According to the MRC, South Africa was the first, and so far the only, country to record smoking on death registration forms.
Lead author, Professor Freddy Sitas, said the results showed that between 1999 and 2007 the main cause of death, particularly in the black African population was tuberculosis and other lung diseases.
"It is important to understand the patterns of smoking and disease in every different country and how they vary with cultural background and socio-economic status," Sitas said.
In the report, co-author, Dr Debbie Bradshaw, added that the message that the risks of continued smoking could be as great as that experienced among the coloured smokers in the study, needed to be conveyed to all young smokers in South Africa,
While the study may have found that the highest numbers of smoking-related deaths are in the coloured community, smoking is deadly for everyone. So it’s in your best interest to quit smoking.