Judging by the searches people use on the Internet, this is a common query.
For a start, let’s just analyse the statement – “Smokers die younger”. It is frequently quoted by the Antis as a shock tactic and even appears on tobacco products to dissuade us from using them. But what does it mean?
The first query I would have is “younger than what?”. It can’t mean that you’ll die younger than your own expected lifespan, because no one knows what your expected lifespan is. If it means that smokers will die before the average life expectation of their peers then that is more than debatable.
The average lifespan is a figure calculated by taking the age of death in a particular society and then averaging it out. One of the reasons that average lifespan has increased over the centuries is not that people are living longer; it’s because of the drop in infant mortality. Average lifespan is an arbitrary figure which varies from country to country, the variation being due to such factors as prosperity, diet and genetics.
But do smokers die younger?
The best way to calculate this is to check national lifespan and national smoking rates. If smoking is damaging, then we would expect national lifespan to be a lot lower if the smoking rate is high?
I have sorted the data on lifespan so we should expect the smoking rate to be lowest at the top.
But it isn’t.
Japan has the highest life expectancy yet they are the fourth highest smokers. I ran a simple test and graphed the two columns. Again, there should be a correlation. In fact there isn’t. There is no relationship at all.
So on a national scale, smoking has no effect whatsoever on life expectancy.
So can a smoker expect to die younger? I would hazard a guess that you have precisely 50% of doing so, just as you have a 50% of living longer. Another great cliché put out by the Antis is that “one in two smokers will die”. While I would argue that all smokers eventually will die, along with all the non-smokers, I would agree that that on in every two smokers will die before the average age. But by the same token one in every two will live longer.
So if you are still worried about dying younger, then I would suggest that whatever does cause an early death, it isn’t tobacco.