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Actuaries say smoking now bigger factor than gender on mortality

Smoking now has a bigger impact on mortality than gender.

Smokers aged 60 are more than twice as likely to die within the next 12 months than non-smokers, according to new tables published by the Continuous Mortality Investigation.

The CMI, part of the Actuarial Profession, says the difference at younger ages is less pronounced but still significant.

Chairman Brian Ridsdale admits the CMI was surprised by the results, which he says come from the industry’s most comprehensive study into the impact of smoking on mortality rates.

Male smokers aged 30 can expect to live five-and-a-half years less than non-smokers while female smokers of the same age face an even greater reduction in lifespan of nearly seven years.

This means 30-year-old male smokers can expect to live to nearly 77 compared with 82 for non-smokers. Female smokers have an average life expectancy of 79 compared with 86 for non-smokers.

The research, presented to the Actuarial Profession’s conference last week, analyses the death rates among lives assured by the major life offices going back to 1925.

Ridsdale says Office for National Statistics data is based on death certificates so does not pick up on the impact of smoking.

He says: “People may be surprised that the gap between smoker and non-smoker has, at many ages, broadened beyond the long-established differential between men and women. This suggests the need for more effective education and public information about the dangers of tobacco.”

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