Age Affects Motivation For Quitting Smoking
A new study
shows that obstacles to smoking cessation and motives for quitting
smoking vary with age. The study by the American College of Chest
Physicians found that smokers over age 65 reported quitting smoking due
to physician pressure and stress due to a major health problem, while
smokers under age 65 reported cigarette cost and tobacco odor as
reasons for quitting.
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, NP, Center
for Tobacco Control, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Great Neck, N.Y.
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."
colleagues from the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-LIJ
compared health status and motives and obstacles for quitting smoking
between 1,909 smokers under age 65 (younger smokers) and 143 smokers
over age 65 (older smokers) who were attending a 6-week comprehensive
were more likely than younger smokers to have a recent hospitalization
(23% vs 13%), comorbid cardiac disease (78% vs 38%), cancer (20% vs
7%), and/or chronic obstructive lung disease/asthma (37% vs 23%).
Regarding motivation, older smokers cited pressure by their physician
and stress of a major health problem as main reasons for quitting.
Younger smokers attributed their reasons for quitting to the cost of
cigarettes, tobacco odor, and general health concerns.
"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," said Ms. 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."
smoking cessation also varied by age group. Younger smokers were more
likely than older smokers to report concerns of weight gain (30% vs
15%), stress management (59% vs 45%), fear of failure (15% vs 8%),
handling social situations (24% vs 7%), and cravings (44% vs 36%) as
obstacles to quitting smoking. Furthermore, 54% of older smokers and
69% of younger smokers reported not wanting to give up their first
cigarette in the morning as an obstacle to quitting smoking. Young
smokers also believe that trying to quit "cold turkey" is best, when in
reality, only 7% of smokers achieve long-term abstinence without
"To be most
effective, treatment plans and education should be relevant to each
group's concerns," said Ms. Reichert. She suggests that health-care
providers offer weight management programs and stress management
strategies as part of the treatment and relapse prevention programs for
younger smokers, while older smokers may be more successful with
physician encouragement and knowledge of how smoking is influencing
their current health conditions.
diseases are major causes of death in the United States," said Dr.
Alvin V. Thomas, Jr., FCCP, President of the American College of Chest
Physicians. "The more we know about what motivates smokers to quit
their habit and what personal obstacles they face in doing so, the more
we can tailor smoking cessation programs to fit the individual needs of
For more information on the American College of Chest Physicians, www.chestnet.org.