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Interpretation Of Statistic: smoker mortality/total smokers = 1/5 ?

  1. Jan 7, 2014 #1


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    Is this a correct conclusion from these three facts ? One in five cigarette smokers dies from smoking.
    There are about 45, 000,000 smokers in the U.S. There are about 450,000 smoker deaths/year from their smoking habit. So 450, 000/45,000,000 = 1% . So if the number of smokers (45,000,000/yr) is a steady state but the quantity of starters and stoppers/year is unknown. Is it correct to say that in any 20 year period that the 9,000,000 deaths/45,000,000 smokers = 20%, = the 1/5 statistic that one in five smokers dies from smoking ?
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  3. Jan 7, 2014 #2


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    If that logic were true, then in any 100 year period 100% of smokers would die.
  4. Jan 8, 2014 #3
    Uhm, If the total smoking population is at a steady 45M and 450 000 die annually of smoking how is it that the number or starters or stoppers is unknown? Each year, statistically, you would need about 450 000 people to start smoking to keep that "steady state".
    In a 20 year period there can't be only 45M smokers. What of the people that have come and gone?

    Suppose one is an avid lottery addict and has worked out that each year after playing countless lotteries they have statistically won an N$ 10% of the time, would that mean that they will have won N$ in 10 years indefinitely?

    In the same manner there could be statistics that each year 5% of some local population has purchased a new home. It doesn't mean that in 20 years all of the locals have bought a new home. As the years go on the probability of it happening goes up, but it won't increase to 1.

    The way I see the original problem is that there is a 1% probability each year that N people out of M total, die of smoking. Therefore in 20 years' time it's still 1/100 unless there is a change of trend which is not mentioned.
    Another way I could see it is that in 20 years the total number of people that are/have been/had been smoking is 45M + 20*450 000. Then, statistically, 9M out of 54M will have died. In a 100 year's time 45M out of 90M will have died, but there is a problem with this one, statistically in 1000 years 450M out of 495M will have died.

    I would go with the ironclad statistics which states 1% of the total smokers dies each year, which won't change in 20 years, meaning in 20 years' time still 1/100 will have died.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  5. Jan 8, 2014 #4


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    The deaths of former smokers who quit but later died of smoking related causes would be included as part of that 1 in 5 stat.

    Note that the number of current adult smokers in the USA has been declining since 2002, despite the increase in population, so the percentage of the population who smoke has been also declining at an even greater rate (and since before 2002).

    Note that some studies claim a smoker fatality rate of 1 in 3 (versus 1 in 5) for smokers, but this probably only includes smokers that never quit until dying of a smoking related condition.
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