Smoking is much more deadly than previously thought.
A study of 200,000 Australians shows the habit cuts 10 years
off the average smoker's life and is directly linked to
two-thirds of deaths in current smokers.
This is much higher than previous international estimates of
The four-year analysis of health records in the Sax
Institute's 45 and Up Study shows even moderate smoking is a
"We all know that smoking is bad for your health. But until
now we haven't had direct large-scale evidence from Australia
about just how bad it is," says study leader Professor Emily
Banks, the scientific director of the 45 and Up study.
"We've been relying on evidence from other countries."
The study, supported by the National Heart Foundation in
collaboration with Cancer Council NSW, shows risk increases
with the number of cigarettes smoked a day.
The risk of death is doubled even among those smoking an
average of 10 cigarettes a day, says study co-author
Associate Professor Freddy Sitas from Cancer Council NSW.
The good news, says Prof Banks, is that stopping smoking at
any age reduces the risk.
Smoking is the largest single preventable cause of death in
Australia and kills 15,000 people a year, says the Heart
Foundation's Dr Rob Grenfell, who worked on the study.
"People need to realise that smoking is a dangerous
activity," he said.
"There's no safe level of smoking and there's no such thing
as social smoking."