Racism is bad for you. Surprise!
Honestly, most research that surfaces about the harmful effects of racism leaves the majority of us unimpressed and unsurprised. It’s been proved that experiencing racism is tied to stress, heart disease, pregnancy complications and probably everything else you can think of that can lead to death or a lower quality of life.
This week, researchers at King’s College London released a study that links adolescent smoking habits to racial discrimination. They surveyed more than 6,500 young people from London schools at several points between ages 11 and 23 and found that those who experienced racism were up to 80 percent more likely to pick up their first cigarette by their 16th birthday. According to the study, students who reported positive relationships with family or a tie to religion were less likely to pick up smoking habits despite exposure to racial discrimination.
“An important point here is that racism affects both physical and mental health outcomes,” said professor Seeromani Harding, principal investigator of the study. “Addressing racism is an important public health priority for young people.” Researchers do note that there isn’t enough data to show causation between racism and teen smoking, but the evidence does mirror recent trends in adolescent behavior.
If addressing racism as a public health priority sounds like common sense, it’s probably because you’re on the receiving end of racism—but for folks on the other side, common sense ain’t so common.