`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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever