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OBJECTIVE: To assess the mortality currently associated with smoking in Hong Kong, and, since cigarette consumption reached its peak 20 years earlier in Hong Kong than in mainland China, to predict mortality in China 20 years hence. DESIGN: Case-control study. Past smoking habits of all Chinese adults in Hong Kong who died in 1998 (cases) were sought from those registering the death. SETTING: All the death registries in Hong Kong. PARTICIPANTS: 27 507 dead cases (81% of all registered deaths) and 13 054 live controls aged >/=35 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Mortality from all causes and from specific causes. RESULTS: In men aged 35-69 the adjusted risk ratios (and 95% confidence intervals) comparing smokers with non-smokers were 1.92 (1.70 to 2.16) for all deaths, 2.22 (1.94 to 2.55) for neoplastic deaths, 2.60 (2.10 to 3.21) for respiratory deaths (including tuberculosis, risk ratio 2.54), and 1.68 (1.43 to 1.97) for vascular deaths (each P<0.0001). In women aged 35-69 the corresponding risk ratios were 1.62 (1.40 to 1.88) for all deaths, 1.60 (1.33 to 1.93) for neoplastic deaths, 3.13 (2.21 to 4.44) for respiratory deaths, and 1.55 (1.20 to 1.99) for vascular deaths (each P<0.001). If these associations with smoking are largely or wholly causal then, among all registered deaths at ages 35-69 in 1998, tobacco caused about 33% (2534/7588) of all male deaths and 5% (169/3341) of all female deaths (hence 25% of all deaths at these ages). At older ages tobacco seemed to be the cause of 15% (3017/20 420) of all deaths. CONCLUSIONS: Among middle aged men the proportion of deaths caused by smoking is more than twice as big in Hong Kong now (33%) as in mainland China 10 years earlier. This supports predictions of a large increase in tobacco attributable mortality in China as a whole.

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Adult, Aged, Case-Control Studies, China, Female, Forecasting, Hong Kong, Humans, Lung Diseases, Obstructive, Lung Neoplasms, Male, Middle Aged, Risk, Sex Distribution, Smoking, Tuberculosis, Pulmonary