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

uch tobacco as a cigarette, wrapped in the leaf of another plant temburni).

The study found that, among men, about 61% of those who smoke can expect to die at ages 30-69 compared with only 41% of otherwise similar non-smokers. Among women, 62% of those who smoke can expect to die at ages 30-69 compared with only 38% of non-smokers.

I am alarmed by the results of this study, said Indias Health Minister Dr Abumani Ramadoss. The government of India is trying to take all steps to control tobacco use - in particular by informing the many poor and illiterate of smoke risks.

It is truly remarkable that one single factor, namely smoking, which is entirely preventable, accounts for nearly one in ten of all deaths in India. The study brings out forcefully the need for immediate public action in this much neglected field, states Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001.

The study found there were no safe levels of smoking, but while the hazards of smoking even a few bidis a day were substantial, the dangers of cigarette smoking were even greater, corresponding to more than a doubling of the risk of death in middle age. This suggests that cigarette smokers lose about 10 years of life compared to non-smokers risks similar to those seen in the West.

Smoking kills, but stopping works about a quarter of all smokers will be killed by tobacco in middle age, unless they stop, said co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University. British studies show that stopping smoking is remarkably effective.

Summary of key findings:

  • This is the first nationally representative study of smoking in India as a whole;
  • During the 2010s there will be about one million (10 lakh) tobacco deaths a year in India;
  • About 70% of these one million deaths will be before old age; meaning 700,000 (7 lakh) per year killed at ages 30-69 (600,000 men and 100,000 women);
  • Tobacco
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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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