Doctors from South Africa led by Debbie Bradshaw at the South African Medical Research Council are the first to present a statistical analysis of the number of deaths attributable to smoking and smoking induced disease that was taken from death records. The research appeared in the Aug. 22, 2013, issue of the journal Lancet.
South Africa began recording death from smoking on death records beginning in 1998. The official death record is a simple yes or no question that asks if the deceased was a smoker.
The record of 481,640 adults who died in South Africa between 1999 and 2007 indicates that death rate caused by smoking is nearly twice the projected death rate from smoking and smoking related diseases. The researcher found that tuberculosis and other lung diseases accounted for an unexpectedly large number of smoking related deaths.
The rates of death from smoking were highest in South Africans of mixed ancestry. Black people had a higher incidence of death from smoking than White people. Smoking related deaths accounted for 25 percent of the deaths of mixed ancestry men between the ages of 35 and 64 and 17 percent of the deaths of mixed race women in the same age group
The researchers note that there is little evidence that any racial distinction can be made in the numbers of young persons who are smoking.
The research is indicative of the efficacy of a simple question recorded on a death certificate as a tool to evaluate what group needs what help with tobacco addiction. South Africa is one of the few countries that require such documentation on death certificates.