How often have you heard someone say or maybe even thought to yourself, “I’m just too old to stop smoking. The damage is already done,”? While perhaps not the intention, this thought process can heavily influence one’s motivation to stop smoking and make it less likely that they will try to quit.
When I hear this from a patient, I ask permission to share some of the research we have learned about smoking and aging. I might share with them a large, 2013 study that tracked the mortality rates of 216,917 adults who smoked. The authors were curious to discover how many years of life a person would gain by stopping smoking compared to those who continued to smoke. Here is what they found:
People who stopped smoking between the ages of 55 – 64 added four years to their life.
People who stopped smoking between the ages of 45 – 54 added six years to their life.
People who stopped smoking between the ages of 35 – 44 added nine years to their life.
People who stopped smoking between the ages of 25 – 34 added 10 years to their life (a lifespan nearly identical to that of a non-smoker).
This of course does not include all the other benefits one experiences upon stopping smoking, which can be found here on BecomeAnEx. So the next time Uncle Charlie tells you he is too old to stop smoking, please remind him that stopping smoking at any age is worthwhile as it will provide him with more quality time to spend with you and the rest of his family.
Jha, P., C. Ramasundarahettige, et al. (2013). "21st-Century Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Cessation in the United States." New England Journal of Medicine 368(4): 341-350.