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Why Quit Smoking? It Depends on Your Age

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Older smokers have far different motivations for quitting smoking than younger ones, according to new research that finds that older smokers can be persuaded to quit if the right arguments are used.

Science Daily reported Oct. 23 that physician pressure and stress related to major health problems were the main reasons cited by quitters over age 65, while younger smokers were more likely to be influenced by factors like the cost of cigarettes and an aversion to tobacco odors, along with general health concerns.

The older smokers studied were more likely to have had a recent hospital stay, cardiac disease, cancer, and/or chronic obstructive lung disease or asthma.

“The current common perception among the medical community is that if smokers age 65 and older haven't quit by now, they can't or won't quit — a perception which may lead physicians to focus less on their older patients' smoking habit,” said lead study author Virginia Reichert of the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. “Our results show that older smokers are motivated to quit smoking by very different factors compared with younger smokers. If these factors are addressed, we may see cessation rates improve for both age groups.”

“If the cost of cigarettes hasn't made the older smoker quit by now, they are not as likely to be affected by the rising costs as much as younger smokers may be,” added Reichert. “On the other hand, younger smokers may not have experienced health effects from their smoking, but they may have felt the impact of the cost of cigarettes/cigars.”

The findings were reported at a recent scientific meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

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