Objectives: To provide a more accurate estimate of early smoking-attributable mortality and potential years of life lost using data from a representative study of 103 study areas in China.
Methods: Using the method proposed by Rogers et al, we employed two datasets: firstly, retrospective national mortality survey data, which included a population of 67 million in 103 study areas, and about one million adults who died in 1986-1988; secondly, nationally representative case-control comparative data was extracted from the survey data to measure the effect of smoking on age trends in smoking-attributable mortality. We also estimated potential years of life lost, and sex differences in life expectancy in smokers and non smokers in the total population aged 35 and over.
Results: Tobacco caused 11.2% (16.0% of men and 3.7% of women) of total deaths in 1987, and more than two-thirds of these excess deaths occurred between the ages of 50 and 74 years, but only less than 5% excess deaths occurred at ages under 50. Although life expectancies varied with region or sex differences, the years of life lost attributable to smoking was almost the same. Smokers at age 35 lost about 3 years of life expectancy in comparison with never smokers. Our study also confirmed that more than 50% of the sex difference in life expectancy was accounted for by smoking.
Conclusion: Fully understanding the consequences of smoking in relation to mortality can clarify its effects on the health and longevity of the entire population.
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