Dying for a Smoke: Two-thirds of Smokers Will Die from Their Habit
We’ve made great strides in this country towards eliminating smoking. Tobacco smoking is strongly discouraged these days, thanks in part to the recognition that second-hand smoke may be nearly as deadly as primary smoke. So it may come as no surprise that a new, large-scale study has concluded that about two-thirds of smokers will literally die for a smoke. Or, rather, from their smoking habit.
The study followed the health and habits of more than 200,000 middle-aged people in Australia, for more than four years. Previously, experts believed that about half of smokers die of illnesses directly related to their habit. But the picture brought into focus by the new study is still more grim than previously suspected.
"We knew smoking was bad, but we now have direct independent evidence that confirms the disturbing findings that have been emerging internationally,” said lead author Professor Emily Banks, Scientific Director of the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study, and a researcher at Australian National University. ”Even with the very low rates of smoking that we have in Australia, we found that smokers have around three-fold the risk of premature death of those who have never smoked. We also found smokers will die an estimated ten years earlier than non-smokers.”
Other health experts were quick to point out that it’s never too late to reap the benefits of quitting. “It's never too late to quit—no matter what your age, or how much you smoke,” said Scott Walsberger, Tobacco Control Manager at Cancer Council New South Wales.
Emily Banks, Grace Joshy, Marianne F Weber, Bette Liu, Robert Grenfell, Sam Egger, Ellie Paige, Alan D Lopez, Freddy Sitas, Valerie Beral. Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. BMC Medicine, 2015; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12916-015-0281-z