A study published this week by the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) involving data from nearly 9,000 people aged between 50 and 74 showed the clear correlation between smoking and serious health risks.
"We were able to show that smokers have more than twice the risk of cardio-vascular diseases as non-smokers," said Hermann Brenner, head of the study.
His statement issued by the centre said that a 60-year-old smoker had the heart attack risk of a 79-year-old non-smoker, and the stroke risk of a 69-year-old non-smoker.
And the positive effect of quitting can be quick to be seen - a smoker's risk of stroke or heart attack declines by more than 40 percent over the first five years after the last cigarette, he said.
Another study showed an 8.6-percent reduction in heart attacks generally, since the introduction during 2007 and 2008 of a ban on smoking in many public places. This was the conclusion of work conducted last year by the Kiel Institute for Therapy and Health Research based on data from the 3.7 million people insured by the DAK statutory insurer.
Those bans, based on a law protecting employees from having to be in smoky workplaces, prevented more than 35,000 serious cardio-vascular illnesses, the study suggested. These would have cost around €150 million in treatment.