August 24/31, 2011

The Older Smoker

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

JAMA. 2011;306(8):876-877. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1221

Smoking prevalence in the United States is lower among older adults (≥65 years of age; 8.3%) compared with younger adults (≤64 years; 22.2%); however, older adults are half as likely to try to quit as smokers aged 18 to 24 years (25.3% vs 53.1%).1 Smoking rates between 1965 and 1994 declined less for individuals 65 years or older (5.9% reduction) than those for younger adults (18.4% reduction).2 Regardless of age, quitting smoking can increase life expectancy and improve health and quality of life.3 Accordingly, the US Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence4 highlights older smokers as a subpopulation for whom treatments might require tailoring because of unique age-related characteristics. Clinicians should consider that older smokers will be an increasing proportion of the patient population and that these smokers might require modification of treatment for smoking cessation.

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