Research Highlight

More young lives go up in smoke

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.112 Published online 18 February 2008

Smoking causes more premature deaths in India

© Getty

In the most comprehensive data ever on the effect of smoking on mortality in India, researchers have found that smoking has been causing a growing number of premature deaths in India.

The researchers scanned a sample of 1.1 million homes and compared the prevalence of smoking among dead subjects with living ones to find that daily smoking of even a small amount of tobacco was associated with an increased risk of death from any medical cause.

The team compared smoking data among 33,000 deceased women and 41,000 deceased men (subjects) with that of 35,000 living women and 43,000 living men (controls).

About five per cent of women and 37 per cent of men between 30 and 69 years of age were found to be smokers. Excess deaths among smokers, as compared with non-smokers, were mainly due to tuberculosis among both women and men as also from respiratory, vascular, or neoplastic diseases.

They also found that smoking could reduce the age of survival of a woman by roughly eight years and that of a man by about six years. Smoking in persons between the ages of 30 and 69 years was found to be responsible for about one in 20 deaths of women and one in five deaths of men.

The researchers estimated that in 2010, smoking could kill about 930,000 adults in India, 70 per cent of whom could be between the ages of 30 and 69 years. Because of population growth, the absolute number of deaths in this age group was rising by about 3 per cent per year.


  1. Jha, P. et al. A Nationally Representative Case–Control Study of Smoking and Death in India. New Engl. J. Med. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa0707719 (2008)