How long does the average smoker live

Occasional smoker Anyone who smokes dies earlier - no matter how much

Smoking is becoming less popular in Germany. And that's a good thing, the authors of the US study would presumably subscribe to. Because they found: Even people who smoke less than one cigarette per day on average have a higher risk of premature death than lifelong non-smokers, the researchers report in the journal “JAMA Internal Medicine”.

The results of the study support the warnings that there is no safe health level for smoking.

Lead Author Maki Inoue-Choi, United States National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Current figures from Germany could prove them right. Every fifth German today describes himself as a regular smoker, according to the Federal Statistical Office in its 2016 annual report. Ten years ago it was every fourth. However, this trend does not apply to women aged 50 and over. This is also reflected in the number of cancer cases: in 2014 around 15,500 women died of lung cancer. That is 41 percent more than ten years ago.

For the analysis, the researchers used data from over 290,000 Americans. In 2004 and 2005, the survey of the 59 to 82-year-old test subjects began. These included a good 22,000 smokers, 156,000 ex-smokers and 111,000 non-smokers for life. Around 1,500 of the smokers have always consumed one to ten cigarettes per day on average. For 159 respondents, it was less than a cigarette for a lifetime. After the survey, the state of health of the participants was recorded continuously until 2011. More than 37,300 of them died during this period.

Risk of death 87 percent higher

In relation to normal mortality rates, the NCI scientists determine the following: For people who smoke one to ten cigarettes a day over the long term, the risk of dying earlier is 87 percent higher than for lifelong non-smokers. Of the 111,473 lifelong non-smokers considered, 9,821 (9 percent) died of cancer, cardiovascular or lung diseases that are related to tobacco consumption. Among the participants who smoke one to ten cigarettes a day, it was 232 of the 1,493 participants (16 percent). Lung cancer was a common but not the only cause of death. Ex-smokers improved their life expectancy the more the earlier they quit smoking.

The researchers point out that the small number of recorded smokers who consume less than one cigarette per day severely limits the significance of the data for this group. For the 159 people, there was also no more detailed information on smoking behavior: do they tend to consume one cigarette every two days or ten times a week at parties? In addition, there are uncertainties because the respondents had to remember their smoking behavior several decades ago.