Melbourne: Up to two in every three smokers would die from their habit if they continue to smoke, warns a large Australian study of more than 200,000 people.
Compared with non-smokers, smoking 10 cigarettes a day doubles the risk of dying and smoking one pack a day increases the risk four to five-fold, the findings showed.
"We knew smoking was bad, but we now have direct independent evidence that confirms the disturbing findings that have been emerging internationally," said lead author professor Emily Banks from the Australian National University.
"We also found smokers will die an estimated 10 years earlier than the non-smokers," said Banks.
Until relatively recently it was thought that about half of the smokers would die of a smoking-related illness, but newer studies in British women, British doctors and American Cancer Society volunteers have put the figure much higher, at up to 67 percent.
"We have been able to show exactly the same result in a very large population-wide sample," said Banks.
The research is the result of a four-year analysis of health outcomes from more than 200,000 men and women.
"Higher tobacco prices have been shown to be the most effective intervention available to governments to reduce demand for tobacco," remarked Kerry Doyle, CEO, The NSW Heart Foundation, Australia.
"With smoking being a major cause of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease the more deterrents people have between them and smoking, the better," said Doyle.
The study appeared in the journal BMC Medicine.