'World without tobacco' would help Belgians live for two years longer

'World without tobacco' would help Belgians live for two years longer
In a tobacco-free future, the average Belgian would live to 83 years-old. Credit: jerik0ne/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In "a world without tobacco," Belgians would see their life expectancy rise by up to two years, according to a new report by the federal health agency released on Wednesday.

The report, published by Sciensano, studied the ways in which life expectancy in Belgium would evolve in different future scenarios where tobacco consumption would either have dropped significantly or even disappeared completely.

The report compared the future scenarios with a "business as usual" one, which used the current rates and prevalences of current and former smokers as well as existing health policies on smoking.

Future Belgian populations living in a "tobacco-free world" would see overall life expectancy rise by two years to reach 83, up from the current 81.

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The report also found that Belgian populations would lead healthy lives for longer in a tobacco-free future, with the figures showing that a 15-year-old Belgians living in the year 2028 in a smoking-free scenario would see their healthy life years (HLY) rise by 3.4 years for men and 2.7 years for women.

This increase would hike even further in the year 2048, with the healthy life years for men and women rising to 3.5 and 2.9 years respectively.

The figures also suggest that a drop in tobacco consumption would help shrink the life expectancy gap between men and women, which according to 2017 figures is currently of 5 years, with men living 79 years and women living for 83.7 years, in average.

The results show that "only drastic measures would have a durable and positive impact on health," the authors wrote, noting that individual anti-tobacco measures only had a limited impact, and that a global plan was needed.

As an example, the authors cited a recent measure which raised the legal age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18, saying that the measure would only raise current life expectancy by two weeks.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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