India to witness one million tobacco deaths a year in 2010s

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New Delhi, Feb 14 (UNI) India is in the midst of a catastrophic epidemic of smoking deaths, which is expected to cause about one million 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 done by a team of experts from India, Canada and the UK, is published 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 homes in all parts of India and 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 per cent of all deaths from tuberculosis while 31 per cent of all deaths from respiratory disease. In terms of number 1,174 out of 3,119 deaths were due to TB and 1,078 out of 3,487 deaths were due to respiratory diseases.

About 20 per cent of all deaths were found to be from vascular disease and 32 per cent of all deaths from cancer while 23 per cent of all deaths from disease.

''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,'' said lead author of the report Professor Prabhat Jha of the Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR), St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Canada.

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 much tobacco as a cigarette, wrapped in the leaf of another plant - temburni.

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

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