It’s never too late to quit smoking! Not only do the benefits of stopping smoking come quickly after you have thrown away your last cigarette butt, but they are felt at any age. This is the finding of a large study led by Canadian researchers, who were interested in the impact of stopping smoking on life expectancy. Verdict? Quitting cigarettes, whatever your age, allows you to live longer.
“Many people think it’s too late to quit smoking, especially in middle age. But these results go against that idea. It’s never too late, the impact is rapid and you can reduce the risk of developing major diseases, which means a better and longer quality of life,” explains Professor Prabhat Jha, from the University of Toronto, in a press release. He added: “Quitting smoking is ridiculously effective in reducing the risk of death, and people can reap the benefits very quickly.”
With other Canadian and Norwegian researchers, the scientist wanted to evaluate the impact of stopping smoking on the life expectancy of former smokers, in comparison with smokers and non-smokers. The authors of this work carried out an observational study involving nearly 1.5 million adults from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Norway, followed for fifteen years. Among the main lessons, the researchers observed a risk of death almost three times higher among smokers aged 40 to 79, compared to those who had never touched a cigarette, and therefore a loss of twelve to thirteen years of life. Which, however, is not irremediable.
A similar survival rate in ten years
Published in the journal NEJM Evidence, their work suggests in particular that quitting smoking before the age of 40 allows you to live “almost as long” as never having succumbed to tobacco. More importantly: no matter the age at which one decides to quit smoking, it only takes a decade to find a survival rate similar – or almost – to those of non-smokers. The researchers specify that half of these benefits occur in the three years following quitting smoking. Conclusions which demonstrate the importance of quitting smoking, whatever the age, especially since scientists believe that quitting smoking is in all cases associated with longer survival.
In detail, they indicate in particular that quitting smoking reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease or cancer, mainly. But this also concerns the risk of death from respiratory disease, although less marked “due to residual lung damage”, estimate the authors of the study. “Helping smokers quit smoking is one of the most effective ways to significantly improve health. And we know how to do it, by increasing taxes on cigarettes and improving cessation support,” continues the Professor Prabhat Jha.
And recommend: “When smokers are in contact with the health care system, doctors and health professionals can encourage them to quit smoking, emphasizing the effectiveness of smoking cessation. This can be do so with care, without judgment or stigma, recognizing that cigarettes are designed to be highly addictive.” According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 1.25 billion adult smokers worldwide. “Trends for 2022 show that smoking rates continue to decline globally. Around 1 in 5 adults worldwide use tobacco, compared to 1 in 3 in 2000,” specifies the world health authority.