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India caught in catastrophic smoking epidemic
Date:2/13/2008

India is in the midst of a catastrophic epidemic of smoking deaths, which is expected to cause about one million (10 lakh) deaths a year during the 2010s including one in five of all male deaths and one in 20 of all female deaths at ages 30-69. On average, male bidi smokers lose about six years of life, female bidi smokers lose about eight years and male cigarette smokers lose about ten years.

The findings are from the first nationally representative study of smoking in India as a whole. The research, led by a team from India, Canada and the UK, is published online today (February 13, 2008)[1] in the New England Journal of Medicine.

About 900 field workers surveyed all adult deaths during 2001-2003 in a nationally representative sample of 1.1 million (11 lakh) homes in all parts of India. Researchers compared smoking histories of 74,000 adults who had died with 78,000 living controls.

Among men in the study who died at ages 30-69, smoking caused about:

  • 38% of all deaths from tuberculosis (1,174 out of 3,119 deaths)
  • 31% of all deaths from respiratory disease (1,078 out of 3,487)
  • 20% of all deaths from vascular disease (1,102 out of 5,409)
  • 32% of all deaths from cancer (709 out of 2,248)
  • 23% of all deaths from disease (5,651 out of 25,290)

Lead author Professor Prabhat Jha of the Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR), St. Michaels Hospital, University of Toronto, Canada, said: The extreme risks from smoking that we found surprised us, as smokers in India start at a later age than those in Europe or America and smoke less. And, smoking kills not only from diseases like cancer and lung diseases but also from tuberculosis and heart attacks.

In India, there are about 120 million (12 crore) smokers. More than one-third of men and about five per cent of women aged 30-69 smoke either cigarettes or bidis (which contain only about a quarter as m
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Contact: Julie Saccone
SacconeJ@smh.toronto.on.ca
416-864-5047
Centre for Global Health Research, Toronto University
Source:Eurekalert

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