Tobacco Smoke, Coal Set to Claim Tens of Millions of Lives in China

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 4 2008 3:17 PM

Tobacco use and smoke from coal and wood are likely to claim tens of millions of lives in China over the next quarter-century, according to a study published online on Saturday by the British journal The Lancet.

Smoke from tobacco, biomass and coal will kill 53.3 million Chinese from chronic respiratory illnesses and 13.5 million from lung cancer during the period from 2003 to 2033, its authors calculate, using the current rate of exposure as a benchmark.

Half of Chinese men smoke and more than 70 percent of Chinese households use solid fuels, such as wood, crop residues and coal for heating and cooking, providing a potent source of indoor air pollution, the study says.

Smoke from these sources will account for 82 percent of the likely 65 million deaths in China from respiratory disease from 2003 to 2033, and 75 percent of the probable 18 million deaths from lung cancer, it projects.

The paper is lead-authored by Hsien-Ho Lin and Majid Ezzati of the Harvard School of Public Health in Massachusetts.