The death risk to smokers is far worse than had been previously feared. New data from a large scale study on the effects of tobacco now suggests that 1 in 2 people dying from smoking, which had been the previous estimate, may be incorrect. As many as 2 in 3 people may be dying from smoking.

This newest study tracked more than 200,000 Australian smokers and measure against non-smokers above the age of 45 over the past six years. The fact that mortality rates were increased in smokers is not surprising but the degree to which smoking can be damaging is what has shocked the health community. Smoking 10 cigarettes a day doubled the risk of a premature death, while 20-a-day smokers were four to five times more likely to die than their non-smoking counterparts.

Although someone who smokes could lead a long life, their habit makes this far less likely. Smoking increases the risk of a multitude of health problems besides the obvious lung issues this could also include heart disease and cancer.

Cancer Research UK had been predicting that 1 in 2 smokers who had smoked for a long period of time were likely to die from a smoking related illness; that figure now appears to be conservative.

Newer studies conducted on UK women, British doctors and American Cancer Society who volunteered have put the figure at up to 67% of smokers eventually succumbing to the addiction. This comes from Professor Emily Banks, the lead author of the Australian study. She stated, “We knew smoking was bad, but we now have direct independent evidence that confirms the disturbing findings that have been emerging internationally.” Prof Banks would continue to say, “Even with the very low rates of smoking that we have in Australia, we found that smokers have around threefold the risk of premature death of those who have never smoked. We also found smokers will die an estimated 10 years earlier than non-smokers.”

George Butterworth, tobacco policy manager at Cancer Research UK, said, “It’s a real concern that the devastation caused by smoking may be even greater than we previously thought. Earlier research has shown, as a conservative estimate, one in two long-term smokers die from smoking-related diseases in the UK, but these new Australian figures show a higher risk.”

Concerning the 2 in 3 figure Butterworth stated, “Smoking habits differ between Australia and the UK in terms of how much people smoke and the age they start, so we can’t conclude that the two-in-three figure necessarily applies to the UK.”

The increasing focus on eradicating smoking must become a priority. We all knew that smoking would be damaging to each individual person but 10 years less of life? As many as 2 in 3 people dying from smoking is simply too many for people to continue doing it. Hopefully this kind of research can help illustrate to smokers that their habit is killing them; far faster than we thought.