Does use of flue-cured rather than blended cigarettes affect international variation in mortality from lung cancer and COPD?

Authored by  PN Lee*, BA Forey*, JS Fry*, JS Hamling*, JF Hamling*, EB Sanders, RA Carchman*

Published in Inhalation Toxicology     
* This author is not affiliated with PMI.


We compared risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) associated with flue-cured and blended cigarettes. Mortality and smoking data were collected for 1971–2000 by sex, age, and period for three countries with a mainly flue-cured market and four with a blended market. Epidemiological relative risk estimates for current and ex smoking were summarized. Smoking statistics and mortality were compared between flue-cured cigarette and blended cigarette countries. Unadjusted mortality rates were generally lower in blended cigarette countries early on, with the difference diminishing or reversing by the 1990s. Differences by cigarette type were rarely significant, due to variations, particularly for COPD, between countries within cigarette type. Current smoking prevalence was generally lower in blended cigarette countries in 1971–1975, with the difference reducing over time. Differences by type were never significant, with blended cigarette countries varying markedly. Ex-smoking increased over time and was lower for blended cigarette countries, generally not significantly. Consumption per smoker was somewhat lower for blended cigarette countries. Relative risk estimates for smoking, derived mainly from U.S. and UK studies, varied little by cigarette type. Conclusions based on estimated smoking-related excess mortality were similar to those based on unadjusted mortality rates. There was little indication of any difference between flue-cured and blended cigarettes on risk of lung cancer or COPD. Our approach could have detected differences of about 40% for male lung cancer, or twofold differences for females or for COPD, had they existed. Between-country differences in rates of two major diseases predominantly caused by smoking cannot materially be explained by whether the countries use flue-cured or blended cigarettes.