IN DEFENSE OF SMOKERS
© 1996, Lauren A. Colby. Version 2.0
Addendum 2



Addendum

May 22, 2003

Smoking and Life Expectancy

When I wrote Chapter 3 in 1996, the Internet was in its infancy and it was very difficult to get reliable information on smoking prevalence in different countries, and to relate those figures to life expectancy. In the intervening years, however, more information has been forthcoming.

A friend of mine, Kees van der Griendt, has compiled figures from 87 countries, which are available at his web site, http://www.kidon.com/smoke/index.html. Far be it for me to duplicate all of his work here. Suffice to say that some of the countries with the highest rates of smoking have the lowest rates of lung cancer. Consider the following table, compiled by Kees from figures furnished by the WHO and the CIA:

Top 15 Male Life Expectancies

  LE (years) Smokers prevalence (%)
1. Iceland 76.6 (1994) 31.0 (1994)
2. Japan 76.5 (1994) 59.0 (1994)
3. Costa Rica 75.9 (1994) 35.0 (1988)
4. Israel 75.9 (1994) 45.0 (1990)
5. Sweden 75.5 (1994) 22.0 (1994)
6. Greece 75.2 (1994) 46.0 (1994)
7. Switzerland 74.8 (1994) 36.0 (1992)
8. Netherlands 74.7 (1994) 36.0 (1994)
9. Canada 74.7 (1994) 31.0 (1991)
10. Cuba 74.7 (1994) 49.3 (1990)
11. Australia 74.5 (1994) 29.0 (1993)
12. Spain 74.5 (1994) 48.0 (1993)
13. Malta 74.5 (1994) 40.0 (1992)
14. Italy 74.4 (1994) 38.0 (1994)
15. France 74.3 (1994) 40.0 (1993)
USA 72.6 (1994) 28.1 (1991)

If, as the anti smokers postulate, smoking is a deadly "addiction", trimming years off the life of the smoker, how do they explain such examples as Japan, Israel, Greece, Cuba, Spain, Italy and France? How can it be that people in these countries smoke far more than people in the United States, yet manage to live substantially longer?



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