Almost two million smokers will die from their habit

25 February 2015

The first large-scale, direct evidence on smoking and mortality in Australia shows up to 1.8 million of the country’s 2.7 million smokers will die from their habit if they continue to smoke.

Professor Emily Banks said the research, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, was an important reminder that the war on tobacco was not yet won.

“Australia can be proud of its remarkable success in cutting population smoking to just 13 per cent, but even with this world-leading result, 2.7 million of us still smoke,” said Professor Banks, from The Australian National University (ANU) and Scientific Director of the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study.

“Our findings show that up to two in every three of these smokers can be expected to die from their habit if they don’t quit and this highlights the importance of staying the course on tobacco control.”

The research is the result of a four-year analysis of health outcomes from more than 200,000 people from the general population participating in the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study.

“These findings are a huge wake-up call for Australia,” Professor Banks said.

“We knew smoking was bad but we now have direct evidence from Australia that shows it is worse than previously thought. Even 10 cigarettes a day will double your risk of dying prematurely.”

The research was supported by the National Heart Foundation in collaboration with major 45 and Up Study partner Cancer Council NSW and conducted by a national and international team.