As part of the four-year Australian study, researchers analysed the health records of 200,000 people. The study found that smoking was more lethal than previously thought and accounted for two-thirds of deaths in current smokers.

This figure is much higher than previous international estimates that tobacco use accounted for half of all deaths among smokers.

Overall,  life expectancy among smokers dropped by ten years when compared to that of non-smokers within the study period, according to lead researcher Emily Banks from  Australia’s National University.

While the study did find that it is better to be a light smoker than a heavy one, it doesn’t mean that light smokers are off the hook.

“Even among less heavy smokers – those smoking an average of ten cigarettes per day – the risk of death was more than doubled,” added co-author Freddy Sitas from Australia’s Cancer Council in the province of North South Wales.

According to Banks, this increased risk associated with light smoking is similar to that of people who are extremely overweight.

“People don’t realise how damaging even light smoking is for your health,” she said. “The risk associated with smoking ten cigarettes a day are similar to the risks of death associated with being morbidly obese.”

“Quitting at any age reduces the risks and the earlier, the younger you quit the better,” she added. – Health-e News Service.