Background: Increasing proportions of smokers in Japan smoke <10 cigarettes per day (CPD). Yet, the health risks of low-intensity smoking in Asia are poorly understood.
Methods: We performed a pooled analysis of 410 294 adults from nine population-based prospective cohort studies participating in the Japan Cohort Consortium. Cigarette-use data were collected at each study baseline in 1983-1994. Study-specific hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for all-cause and cause-specific mortality were calculated using multivariable-adjusted Cox regression by CPD among current smokers and by age at cessation among former smokers, with never smokers as the referent group. Pooled HRs and CIs were computed using a random-effect model.
Results: The smoking prevalence was 54.5% in men and 7.4% in women. About 15.5% of male and 50.4% of female current smokers smoked 1-10 CPD (low-intensity). Both male and female low-intensity smokers had higher all-cause mortality risks than never smokers. Risks were further higher with increasing CPD in a dose-response manner. HRs (95% CIs) were 1.27 (0.97-1.66), 1.45 (1.33-1.59) and 1.49 (1.38-1.62) for 1-2, 3-5 and 6-10 CPD, respectively, in men; 1.28 (1.01-1.62), 1.49 (1.34-1.66) and 1.68 (1.55-1.81) for 1-2, 3-5 and 6-10 CPD, respectively, in women. Similar associations were observed for smoking-related causes of death. Among former low-intensity smokers, younger age at cessation was associated with lower mortality risk.
Conclusions: Smoking very low amounts was associated with increased mortality risks in Japan. All smokers should quit, even if they smoke very few CPD.
Keywords: Japan; Low-intensity smoking; cessation; cigarette; mortality; smoking; smoking-related death.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association 2021. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.