Smoking Expected to Kill 1 Million People in India by 2013

Smoking kills 900,000 people every year in India, and unless corrective action is taken soon that number will increase to 1 million smoking-related deaths annually by 2013 and beyond, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and conducted by scientists from India, Canada and the UK. For the study, 900 field workers gathered information from a sample of 1.1 million homes in all parts of India.

Highlights of the study include:

* Smoking may soon account for 20 percent of all male deaths and 5 percent of all female deaths among Indians between the ages of 30 and 69.

* About 61 percent of men who smoke can expect to die between the ages of 30 and 69, compared with only 41 percent of non-smoking men who are similar in other ways.

* About 62 percent of women who smoke can expect to die between the ages of 30 and 69, compared to only 38 percent of non-smoking women.

* On average, men who smoke bidi—the popular hand-rolled cigarettes that contain about one-quarter as much tobacco as a full-sized cigarette—shorten their lives by about six years. Men who smoke full-sized cigarettes lose about 10 years of life.

* Bidi-smoking women shorten their lives by about eight years on average.

* Smoking 1-7 bidis a day, for example, raised mortality risks by 25 percent while smoking an equal number of cigarettes daily doubled the risk of death to 50 percent.

“It is truly remarkable that one single factor, namely smoking, which is entirely preventable, accounts for nearly one in 10 of all deaths in India,” said Harvard University Professor Amartya Sen. “The study brings out forcefully the need for immediate public action in this much-neglected field.”

Smoking Deaths On the Rise in Developing Nations Worldwide
The projected increase in smoking-related deaths in India is part of a global trend, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that smoking-related deaths worldwide will surpass 9 million annually by 2020—with 7 million of those deaths occurring in developing nations.

Twenty-five years ago, nearly 70 percent of the lung cancer deaths worldwide occurred in high-income nations. Today, 50 percent of lung cancer deaths occur in low-income nations, and by 2030 that number is expected to increase to 70 percent.

Currently, 1.3 billion people worldwide smoke or use other tobacco products, and nearly 5 million die as a result. Eighty-four percent of the world’s tobacco users live in countries with developing or transitional economies.

Thanks to the invention of electronic cigarettes, smoking does not have to be very harmful anymore. The health benefits of electronic cigarettes are many and e-cigs are gaining on global popularity as a healthy alternative to quit smoking. This is because e-cigs are pose fewer health risks to smokers. While smoking tobacco exposes smokers to the risk of contracting cancer or emphysema, the e-cigarette does not contain toxins that are as harmful as the ones in tobaccos.

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