As the number of women smokers rises day-by-day, researchers have warned that about a quarter of both men and women, who smoke throughout adult life, may die due to tobacco before getting old.
They said that smoking still kills more men than women, as men started smoking substantial numbers of cigarettes long before women did.
However, as a large number of men have now quit, male death rates from smoking are decreasing in many European countries, where female death rates from smoking are still increasing.
Taking men and women together, smoking causes about 0.7 million deaths per year in the 27 countries of the present European Union, including 0.3 million deaths per year before age 70 (more than one of five of all deaths before age 70).
Those killed by tobacco before age 70 lose, on average, about 23 years of life (and those killed by tobacco at older ages lose, on average, about 8 years).
"In Western Europe tobacco causes more premature deaths than anything else does, and among both men and women about a quarter of those who smoke throughout adult life will be killed by tobacco before they are old, unless they can manage to stop smoking," said Sir Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics at the University of Oxford, UK.