It is a complete myth that smokers die prematurely
smoking rarely kills male ever-smokers before 50 years of age and female ever-smokers before 55 years of age, and does so very rarely at earlier ages. While deaths attributed to smoking do occur much more frequently with increasing age, so too do deaths from other causes and it is not clear how the ever-smoker's age-increasing annual risk of death due to his or her smoking should be apportioned between smoking on the one hand and simply aging on the other. The anti-smoking movement's message that smoking kills has to be interpreted from the balanced perspective of not only how likely it is to do so; but of how likely it is that other causes will pre-empt that possibility by leading to death before it eventuates. For instance, while it may be a cause of concern to a 65 to 69 year old male ever-smoker, and to a 70 to 74 year old female ever-smoker to be told that they have a yearly chance of about 1 in 100 that their smoking will kill them,that particular concern will not, perhaps, seem quite so overwhelming when they learn that, in any event, they also have about a 1 in 50 chance that they will die from other causes. To put the extreme case, an 80 plus year old ever-smoker is unlikely to be overly concerned that he or she has about a 1 in 30 yearly chance that it is their smoking that will kill them, when the yearly chance that other causes will do so is about 1 in 10.
extract from The Smoking Epidemic: Death and Sickness among Australian Smokers
Prof.Peter D. Finch