Smoking leads to five-fold increase in heart disease and stroke in under-50-year-olds

May 31, 2013

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by five-fold in people under the age of 50 and doubles risk in the over-60s. The protection of children and adolescents from taking up smoking is essential to the future health of Europeans and stronger measures are needed, according to the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The warning comes on World No Tobacco Day, held today.

Cardiovascular disease () is the number one killer in Europe and is responsible for the death of 1.9 million EU citizens every year. Smoking causes 28% of CVD deaths in men aged 35 to 69 years and 13% of CVD deaths in women of the same age. Risks from smoking are related to how much tobacco is smoked daily and to how long a person has been a smoker.

Professor Grethe Tell, ESC prevention spokesperson, said:

"We know that the earlier one starts smoking, the more damage the smoke does. One reason is that there is a dose response relationship between how many years one smokes and the , so the younger you are when you start, the higher dose you get altogether. In addition, the earlier you start smoking, the more addicted you may become and therefore the more difficult it will be to stop smoking later."

The ESC is calling for a number of measures to prevent young people from taking up smoking:

  • Ban with a characterising flavour from the market. Flavours improve the taste and make it easier to inhale, particularly for young people just starting to smoke.
  • Introduce plain packaging for tobacco products and avoid trademarks or promotional elements. Studies suggest that this will have a large impact on preventing young adults from trying smoking.
  • Cover at least 75% of the front and back packaging with on the multiple risks of smoking. These warnings are particularly effective with young adults.
  • Enforce by retailers, with large financial penalties for underage sales.
  • Introduce a requirement for medicine authorisation of all non-tobacco nicotine containing products to prevent promotion to who are non-smokers.
  • Regulate electronic cigarettes as a tobacco and medical product. Brands with flavours such as vanilla or chocolate attract children and put them at increased risk of experimenting with cigarettes or other nicotine containing products.

European institutions are currently working on a new "Tobacco Products Directive". The ESC is therefore calling the relevant policy-makers to include its recommendations and adopt optimal public health protection measures.

Stopping young people taking up smoking is a key goal of the ESC joint guidelines on prevention of cardiovascular disease.4 Other recommendations are to avoid smoking and exposure to passive smoking, and that all smokers should be given advice and help to quit.

Passive smoking at home or in the work place increases the risk of CVD by 30%. However, smoking bans lead to rapid and sizeable reductions in hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction. People who stop smoking also rapidly reduce their risk of CVD.

Professor Tell said:

"Passive smoking is much more dangerous than many people think. Increasing exposure to cigarette smoke, either active or passive, is significantly associated with atherosclerosis.''

She concluded:

"Prevention of smoking is the most cost-effective way to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease. This is particularly important for children and adolescents who are susceptible to tobacco promotion and find it more difficult to quit smoking."

Explore further: Non-smoking hotel rooms still expose occupants to tobacco smoke

More information: European Society of Cardiology position paper on the 'Tobacco Products Directive'.

European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice (version 2012).

Related Stories

Non-smoking hotel rooms still expose occupants to tobacco smoke

May 13, 2013
Non-smokers should give hotels that allow smoking in certain rooms a wide berth, say the authors, and instead choose completely smoke free hotels.

Stopping smoking is hard despite success of smoke-free legislation

April 20, 2012
The successful implementation of smokefree legislation in Hong Kong has led to an overall decrease in the total number of smokers but the remaining smokers who are finding it difficult to quit are going on to become "hardcore" ...

Removing branding from cigarette packets stubs out their appeal

April 25, 2013
Women say they get less satisfaction and less enjoyment from smoking cigarettes that come in plain, standardised packs - according to new research released today (Thursday).

Smoking in youth-rated movies doubles, report says

April 10, 2013
(HealthDay)—Smoking scenes in youth-rated movies doubled in number between 2010 and 2012, and have returned to the same level as a decade ago, according to a new report.

More than 200,000 UK children start smoking every year (w/ Video)

March 22, 2013
Around 207,000 children aged 11-15 start smoking in the UK every year according to new research published today (Friday).

Increases in heart disease risk factors may decrease brain function

May 2, 2013
Brain function in adults as young as 35 may decline as their heart disease risk factors increase, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.