Smokers taking 'up to 10Y off their life'

18 October, 2013

The National Heart Foundation of Australia has thrown its support behind recent research results which show current smokers are taking up to ten years off their life.

The analysis, the first-ever of long-term smoking data in Australia, has found two-thirds of deaths in current smokers can be directly attributed to smoking — much higher than international estimates of 50 per cent expectancy.

"Every day, four people in NSW lose their life as a result of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking," said Kerry Doyle, chief executive of Heart Foundation NSW.

"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, accounting for 5200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations per year and costing the NSW community about $8 billion annually.

"Smokers are up to four times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than non-smokers. This includes a greater chance of having one or more heart attacks or 20 times more likely to suffer from angina than non-smokers."

Heart Foundation National Clinical Issues director and study co-collaborator, Dr Rob Grenfell said there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.

"We now have clear evidence showing us that even light tobacco smoking has severe consequences and is associated with a higher risk of premature death," he said.

"Smoking is the largest single preventable cause of death in Australia, killing more than 15,000 Australians a year."

The four-year analysis looked at health records from more than 200,000 people participating in the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study and found current smokers were cutting at least ten years off their lifespan.

The study, supported by the Heart Foundation in collaboration with major 45 and Up partner Cancer Council NSW, found that over the four year follow-up period, current smokers were three times more likely to die than people who had never smoked.

"Even among less heavy smokers — those smoking an average of 10 cigarettes per day — the risk of death was more than doubled," Dr Grenfell said.

"People need to realise that smoking is a dangerous activity that causes significant diseases such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease and a range of other conditions to take over your body and to lead you to an early grave.

"There's no safe level of smoking and there's no such thing as social smoking so do yourself and your loved ones a favour and try quitting today."

The findings were recently presented at the 10th Annual 45 and Up Collaborators' Meeting, a yearly event showcasing the study's latest findings and this year marks a decade since the study was conceived as a major research resource to tackle some of the biggest health issues facing Australians.