Smokers less likely to make their 70s

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The Independent Online
Lifelong smokers are about half as likely to reach the age of 73 as non-smokers, according to a report which estimates for the first time the impact of tobacco on the survival prospects of British men.

The British Regional Heart Study followed up more than 7,700 men for up to 15 years, and found that those who had started smoking by the age of 20 and never quit had a 42 per cent chance of reaching 73, compared with 78 per cent of men who had never smoked.

Dr Andrew Phillips of the Royal Free Hospital, London, said the new data would help people - particularly the young - understand more easily the dangers of smoking. By the end of the study in December 1993, 127 lifelong non-smokers had died compared with 560 lifelong smokers. Causes of death potentially related to smoking included heart disease and lung disease, and cancer of the mouth, throat, pancreas, respiratory and urinary systems.

The men, who were recruited from representative GP's practices in 24 towns in Britain, were between 40 and 59 when they entered into the study between 1978 and 1980, according to the report in tomorrow's issue of the British Medical Journal. More than three-quarters had smoked at some time in their life and the average age at which they smoked their first cigarette was 16 years.