High Death Rate In India Due To Smoking

Dr. Prabhat Jha of the Centre for Global Health Research, Toronto has published research regarding the risk of mortality associated withs smoking in India, involving data from 1.1 million Indian homes. Data of deceased individuals, all of them in the age group between 30 and 69 years of age, showed that 37% of the men and 5% of the women had been smokers, and smoking doubled the risk for both sexes due to medical causes. Smoking did not only rate as a risk for lung and respiratory cancers but also for tuberculosis, vascular and respiratory disease. Smoking as a causal relationship was estimated to be responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in men and 1 in 20 deaths in women. With the population growth in India the number of death in the age group of 30 to 69 related to smoking is estimated to increase by 3% per year. Currently available data suggests that the rate of smoking is high especially among men in India. Data from other nations show, that smoking bans in public places are effective in turning these statistics around. Italy used to be one of the European nations, where smoking in public was common and as a result the exposure to second hand cigarette smoke was not only an inconvenience but a serious health risk. Cardiovascular events like heart attacks showed a decrease among men and women in Italy after the smoking ban in public places was put into effect in 2005. The findings were related to the improved indoor air quality.

High Death Rate In India Due To Smoking

High Death Rate In India Due To Smoking

There was an increase of sales in stop smoking aids like nicotine replacement products. Sales of cigarettes showed a decrease. Giulia Cesaroni from a local health unit in Rome remarked that even a small reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease can have enormous public health implications, as coronary artery disease is the leading cause of deaths in Italy. Compared to before the ban heart attack rates of middle aged (35- to 64-years) Italians dropped by 11%, 65- to 74-year-olds had a reduction of 8%, but those in the 75-84 year age group showed no benefit (as coronary artery disease in them likely was irreversible).

More information about:

1. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:

2. Causes of lung cancer:

3. Heart attacks:

References: The Indian data based on (February 13, 2008); the Italian study was published in Circulation 2008 (Feb. 11)

Last edited November 3, 2014


Second Hand Cigarette Smoke Kills

A recent publication in the British Medical Journal was reviewed in the Aug.10 issue of The Medical Post. The study was concerning detailed census data from New Zealand where two cohorts of the population were compared in 1981 and 1996.

The 1981 study involved 286,796 people, the 1996 study involved 382,462 people. Both cohorts were further classified into exposure to second hand smoke and non-exposure meaning that they lived in a smoke-free home (controls). I have elected to show the results in a graph below for ease of reference. The authors Dr. Tony Blakely and others from the University of Otago had followed each cohort for 3 years and recorded death rates (mortality rates) for each of the subgroups.

They pointed out that there was a 15% increase in premature death for those exposed to second hand smoke when compared to the controls who were not exposed.

Comments: 1. The mortality in the 1996 study (in blue bars in the graph below) for males is what the authors quoted (15.1%). However, for females, the death rate was even higher with regard to exposure to second hand smoke: mortality was 26.7% higher when the exposed group is compared to the controls.

Second Hand Cigarette Smoke Kills

Second Hand Cigarette Smoke Kills

2. The 1981 study (green bars in the graph below) had a much higher overall mortality than the overall mortality in the 1996 study (blue bars). This likely is due to the 15 year interval between the two study groups and the fact that during that time in New Zealand as in many other industrialized countries the death rate from cigarette smoke exposure has declined significantly.

One such study indicates a reduction between 1981 and 1997 of 38% in all preventable deaths, which includes death as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke. The average death rate reduction in the New Zealand study over the 15 years was 31.7% for men and 29.35% for women when the exposed groups and control groups were pooled.

3. The controls and the relationship of the subgroups within the 1996 study (the blue bars in the graph below) were very consistent , but were not consistent within the 1981 study (green bars).

For instance, the controls of death rates should always be smaller in both males and females when compared to the groups that were exposed to second hand cigarette smoke. In the 1996 study this was the case, but in the 1981 study this was not the case. This may indicate that there were other negative factors included in the 1981 study leading to premature death or that the controls were simply also exposed to cigarette smoke in the past.

Mortalitiy Rates (%) Resulting From Exposure to Second Hand Smoke in New Zealand Study
 Second Hand Cigarette Smoke Kills1

Conclusion: This is an important study as it is based on large numbers and it shows that even relatively small concentrations of cigarette smoke in the environment make a measurable difference in terms of death rates among the population. It also confirms the fact that the death toll has been reduced by about 30% in the population within 15 years (between 1981 and 1996), because many people have quit smoking during that time period and this is measurable as indicated above (green bars higher on average than blue bars).

More info on:

Heart attacks:

Lung cancer:

Reference: The Medical Post, Aug. 10, 2004, page 48

Last edited October 27, 2014