Professor Sir Richard Peto, from Oxford University, who co-authored the study into smoking habits, said:
If women smoke like men, they die like men - but, whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra 10 years of life.
Both in the UK and in the USA, women born around 1940 were the first generation in which many smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life. Hence, only in the 21st century could we observe directly the full effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on premature mortality among women.
The research study into smoking habits also concluded that those smokers who kicked the habit around age 30 avoided 97% of their excess risk of premature death.
Women aged 50 to 65 were enrolled into the Million Women study, designed to investigate links between health and lifestyle, from 1996 to 2001.
Participants completed a questionnaire about living habits, medical and social factors and were re-surveyed three years later. Women were monitored for a total of 12 years on average, during which there were 66,000 deaths.