Peto and his staff were also able to show that giving up smoking leads to a significant reduction of the risk. Even longstanding smokers who only quit when they are 50 years old can lengthen their average life expectancy by about 6 years and reduce the risk of contracting lung cancer by the age of 75 years by more than 50%. He therefore made an impassioned note that informing young people about the dangers of smoking is indeed important, but the quickest and greatest effect would be achieved if a larger number of adults were to quit smoking.
Among other things, Peto has calculated that in the 20th century, more than 100 million people died early due to cigarette smoking, i.e. at the age of 30-69 years. He commented that the very high ratio of smokers in Asian countries will lead to sickness and mortality of extraordinary proportions. He estimates that in India in the year 2010, about 930,000 adults will die because of their tobacco consumption, 70% of them being between 30 and 69 years of age. Not least of all the work performed by Sir Richard Peto has resulted in an increasing number of governments worldwide initiating measures to protect their citizens, particularly passive smokers, from the health consequences of smoking, not by enlightenment and education but by legislative measures such as bans on smoking in public rooms.
|Contact: Professor Paul Kleihues|
University of Zurich