How Anti-Smokers Lie About Smoking And Life Expectancy

FORCES - Back to The Evidence


Eurostat's New Statistics Released - Another Blow in the Face of Antismokers
Statistical Analisys of Life Expectancy Relative to Smoking and Environmental Pollution

What the anti-smoking groups and the uncritical and/or poorly educated media tell us about the supposed "deadliness" of smoking, and what the data actually show, are two different things (Reference: Rogers RG, Powell-Griner E. Life expectancies of cigarette smokers and non-smokers in the United States. Soc Sci Med 1991;32 (10):1151-1159. Based on the National Health Interview and the National Mortality Follow-back Surveys).

These surveys are funded and conducted by the federal government, and are major sources of official statistics. Rogers and Powell-Griner apparently did not look at their own data when they stated their conclusion that "smokers have at least a 25% shorter life," which they also claimed in the abstract. They misled the public that, if non-smokers live to about age 80, then smokers must be dying 20 years earlier, since that is 25 shorter.

The actual figures from the article show no such thing. Perhaps the presentation was too complex for the media to decipher. The expected years remaining merely had to be added, via simple arithmetic, to the age group in question.  

never smokers FEMALES
current smokers MALES
never smokers MALES
current smokers 25 - 29 87.6 80.7 79.7 72.2 30 - 34 87.7 80.9 80.1 72.7 35 - 39 87.9 81.1 80.3 73.3 40 - 44 88.1 81.3 80.7 73.8 45 - 49 88.3 81.6 81.1 74.5 50 - 54 88.6 82.0 81.4 75.2 55 - 59 89.0 83.0 82.0 76.4 60 - 64 89.5 84.2 83.0 78.1 65 - 69 90.4 85.4 84.3 79.9 70 - 74 91.5 87.3 85.7 82.4 25 + 93.1 90.1 88.1 85.3

These statistics show that average current smokers' life expectancy is 72 and 81 for men and women, respectively, as of age 25-30, and 85 and 90 if they're 75+.

This is despite not considering the socioeconomic differences between smokers and non-smokers, which account for a substantial proportion of the lifespan difference.

The difference between never-smokers and current smokers is about seven years at ages 25-29, and 3 years at age 75+. In comparison, there is more than eight years difference in life expectancy between men and women among both smokers and never-smokers at ages 25-29, which diminishes to about five years at age 75+ years.

(An average female smoker lives about as long as an average male never-smoker. 

Courtesy of Carol Thompson 08/23/93
Smokers' Rights Action Group
P.O. Box 259575
Madison, WI 53725-9575
Phone: 608-249-4568

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