Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Most Men 65-Plus Are Current or Former Smokers

Smoking was once the norm for men in the United States. Only 41 percent of men aged 65 or older say they never smoked cigarettes, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 59 percent majority are current or former smokers.

Cigarette smoking status of men aged 65-plus
Current smoker: 10%
Former smoker: 49%
Never smoker: 41%

Cigarette smoking status of women aged 65-plus
Current smoker: 7%
Former smoker: 31%
Never smoker: 62%

Not surprisingly, health problems are more common among smokers than nonsmokers. A substantial 28 percent of current smokers aged 65 or older report having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), for example. The figure is a smaller 19 percent among former smokers, and 7 percent for never smokers.

The prevalence of health problems among former smokers depends on how long they smoked. Among former smokers who smoked for 10 or fewer years, only 9 percent have COPD. Among those who smoked for 10 to 25 years, 12 percent have the disease. The share rises to 20 percent among those who smoked for 25 to 40 years and peaks at 33 percent among those who smoked for 40 or more years. Most former smokers had smoked for 25 or more years, NCHS reports, and one in four had smoked for 40 or more years.

"Smoking cessation has been shown to be beneficial at any age," the NCHS concludes. "However, even after quitting smoking, the length of time a person smoked is reflected in current health measures among people aged 65 and over."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health of Former Cigarette Smokers Aged 65 and Over: United States, 2018 (PDF)

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