Health study projects death toll from chronic bronchitis and emphysema

By: Marlowe Hood

Agence France- Press

PARIS — Chronic bronchitis and emphysema caused by passive smoking will kill nearly two million people in China who today are aged over 50, according to a study published today.

That toll more than doubles if one include deaths from lung cancer and heart disease also inflicted by secondhand tobacco, the authors said.

The study, led by K. K. Cheung and Peymane Adab of Birmingham University in Britain, found that people who had never smoked were 48 per cent more likely to suffer chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD) if exposed to heavy tobacco smoke.

This was defined as 40 hours of exposure a week for more than five years, in a workplace or home where colleagues or family members smoked.

On present trends, “ of the 240 million people aged over 50 years alive today in China, high exposure to passive smoking would result in about 1.9 million excess deaths,” the researchers conclude grimly.

“ In China, we are looking at something like 100,000 people dying a year from passive smoking, and about 45 per cent of that will be from chronic lung disease,” Cheung told AFP in an interview.

“ The rest are from coronary heart disease and lung cancer.”

The study, the largest of its kind ever undertaken in China, examined 15,379 non- smokers — almost 90 per cent of them women — in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Citing a recent study by Beijing University, Cheung said passive smoking costs China 29 billion yuan per year ($ 5 billion Cdn) in medical costs.

Other factors aggravating lung disease include bad air pollution and dangerous working conditions.

China has taken some measures to reduce tobacco consumption and exposure to second- hand smoke.

Beijing announced on Tuesday its intention to ban all tobacco advertising by the beginning of 2011, the latest possible date required under the World Health Organization’s treaty on tobacco control.

The government has also banned smoking on public transport, and has declared the Olympic Games in Beijing next summer “ smoke free”.


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