`Cigarettes set to kill 10m by 2025'

Conference sends a grim signal about world smoking epidemic

The 10th World Conference on Tobacco or Health opened yesterday in Peking with grim warnings about the cost of the smoking epidemic.

Patterns of smoking seen in the West after the Second World War, when 80 per cent of British and American men smoked, are being repeated in developing countries such as China, with the inevitable consequence of a surge in smoking-related deaths in decades to come.

The death-toll is set to shift from the developed to the developing world over the next 30 years. This will include a sharp rise in tobacco-related fatalities in China, where 320 million smokers puff their way through one in three of all cigarettes smoked world-wide.

Richard Peto, Professor of Medical Statistics at Oxford University and an authority on smoking, told the 1,800 delegates that he estimated that this year 3.5 million people worldwide will die of smoking, of whom 2 million are in the developed countries.

By about 2025 the annual global death-toll will reach 10 million, of whom 7 million will be in the developing countries. World-wide over the next 20 years there will be about 100 million deaths from smoking unless adult smokers stop.

China, where three-quarters of middle-aged men smoke, will see one of the biggest increases. "I know Deng Xiaoping survived to the age of 90, but he was an exception," said Mr Peto, referring to the chain-smoking Chinese patriarch, who died in February aged 92. But just as Deng eventually gave up, so should others. Those who stop before the age of 35 have a survival rate almost identical to lifelong non-smokers, and those who stop at a later age still show big benefits.

Mr Peto said figures indicated that 700,000 Chinese people are dying of tobacco-related diseases a year, compared with 500,000 in the US and 500,000 in the European Union. "China already has more tobacco deaths than any other country," said Mr Peto.

Next century the annual toll in China will rise to 3 million; a third of all Chinese males under the age of 30 will be killed by tobacco.

China has seen an big increase in cigarette consumption over the past 20 years and is viewed by tobacco companies as the world's most enticing market. The director-general of the World Health Organisation, Hiroshi Nakajima, yesterday welcomed recent lawsuits against cigarette-makers in the US and the admission by the Ligget Group that tobacco was addictive.

Last week Geoffrey Bible, chairman of Philip Morris, conceded that some American deaths might have been caused "in part" by smoking. But Mr Nakajima warned: "We must demand that the large multinational tobacco companies that experience controls in their home countries are not free to expand into markets in other countries."

China's domestic tobacco industry is run by the government as a state monopoly, producing 1,700,000,000,000 cigarettes a year. Tobacco taxes are the biggest single contributor to central-government coffers in China. This may explain the often lax implementation of China's anti-smoking regulations. More than 70 cities have banned smoking in public places and from 1 May smoking was supposed to stop on all public transport, but in reality these rules are routinely disregarded. Yesterday's overall message was bleak. Half of long-term smokers will be killed by smoking diseases. It is "like flipping a coin", said Mr Peto. Half of those who die will do so before the age of 70, losing 20 to 25 years of their normal life expectancy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links