Though it is common knowledge that smoking is injurious to health, how many really die because of smoking?
To find out, the Global Burden of Disease Tobacco Collaborators, including Indian researchers, conducted 3625 surveys in 204 countries over 30 years. Data was collected from participants who currently smoke and former smokers.
More than one billion people smoke more than seven trillion cigarettes or their equivalent annually around the world. The prevalence is higher in males in 151 countries including India. In contrast, there are more female smokers in 42 countries. Most smokers are 30 and older.
A total of 36 diseases are influenced by the amount of tobacco smoked. Ischemic heart disease ranks first, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and stroke. Together these diseases account for approximately 72 per cent of deaths attributable to tobacco smoking.
In 2019, about 77 lakh smokers died – one and half million more than the tobacco related deaths in 2011. The number of deaths was higher in male than in female smokers. And there was a further loss equivalent to 200 million years of human life when disabilities due to morbidity were also taken into account.
The researchers modelled tobacco dose relationship with disease severity using data from 902 prospective studies. The amount of tobacco smoked is directly linked to the severity of the diseases caused by tobacco smoking, they find.
India has witnessed a steep increase in tobacco smoking-related deaths since 1990. Are banning tobacco advertising and controls on sales of tobacco products adequate to protect the health of our citizens? Do the costs to the country match the benefits of revenues for the government?
Lancet, 397: 2337–60 (2021);
G Sharath Chandra
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