The life expectancy of nonsmoking men and women.
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The life expectancy of nonsmoking men and women.

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      Public Health Rep
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      The pronounced difference in life expectancy between men and women in the United States and other industrialized countries has been attributed to a variety of causes, among them, differential rates of cigarette smoking. A study was undertaken to eliminate the confounding factors of imprecision in the taking of smoking histories and exaggeration of early traumatic deaths in life expectancy calculations. Survey data were collected on the lifetime smoking habits of adults in Erie County, Pa., as of 1972-74. In the survey interviews, careful distinctions were made between respondents who had formerly smoked and respondents who had never smoked. The survey data were combined with data collected from surviving relatives about the smoking habits of people who had died in Erie County during the years 1972-74. After deaths attributable to traumatic causes (accidents, suicides, and homicides) were removed, life tables were calculated for male and female nonsmokers over age 30. The resulting life expectancy figures for nonsmoking men and women of parallel age were virtually identical. Thus, differential rates of cigarette smoking are apparently the overwhelming cause for the male-female longevity difference. Actuarial tables should be divided by smoking behavior to reflect this finding. The results of the study suggest that the present longevity difference between men and women will disappear.
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