Smoking drags UK down in the world Health League

Sunday 04 June 2000

102 Clifton Street,London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press Release
4th June 2000
Embargo: 21.00hrs
(Response to WHO press release)
Action on Smoking
and Health

Smoking drags UK down the world health league

New life-expectancy league tables released by the World Health Organisation today show the UK (71.7 years) is behind many other European countries including France, (73.1); Sweden, (73.0); Spain, (72.8);Italy, (72.7); Greece, (72.5); and Switzerland (72.5).  The highest life expectancy in the world is Japan (74.5 years).  UK is ranked 14th.

Echoing comments made by the WHO, ASH Director Clive Bates commented:

“The rise in both male and female smoking happened earlier in Britainthan elsewhere – and so we are paying the price in ill-health earlier.  The rise in smoking diseases typically showsup about 25 years after the rise in smoking.  It was argued for a long time that low levels of lung cancer among womenmight mean that women were less susceptible to tobacco, but it has turned outthat when women smoke like men, they die like men.”

But ASH said there was reason to expect the position to improve – especially if the Government makes smoking a mainstream NHS priority. Clive Bates said:

“The illnesses we see today are driven by the rise in smoking in the 1970s, so we should expect to see an improvement in life expectancy as the benefits of the sharp fall in smoking since the 1970s work through the population.”

“it all points to the importance of treating tobacco dependence as aproper disease and getting the NHS to take it really seriously – we will bemaking proposals as part of the Government’s plans to modernise the NHS”


Contact Clive Bates, ASH (020) 7739 5902

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