The Importance of Older Adults Quitting Smoking

By Shirley Brown, Economic Security Team Member 

Even though you may have smoked for years and had no difficulties that you know of, it would benefit you greatly to quit. It will be difficult but not impossible. You may need help and may have to try several different approaches to find the one that will work best for you. If you are not successful at your first attempt, do not give up. If you can quit smoking for a brief period, the next time will be more encouraging. Your body has the desire for nicotine which has become an addiction and can be hard to break. It may take several attempts to quit.   

According to the National Institute on Aging, smoking shortens your life expectancy; and causes many illnesses and diseases, such as lung, heart, cancer, osteoporosis, blindness, and so many other frightening illnesses.   

There are many different methods to quit. The use of medication to help you quit smoking can be helpful. Some over the counter medications can be found at CVS, Rite-aid or your local pharmacy. Some of these are nicotine gum, patches or lozenges. Many people have turned to the electronic cigarettes, but the FDA has not approved them as a quitting aid because the ingredients may still contain nicotine.   

There are other medications that are available only by prescription, such as nicotine inhalers, nasal sprays, antidepressant and oral pills. Often it may be necessary to consult with your physician and other healthcare providers, who may suggest counseling and/or support groups. 

Not only does quitting smoking improve your health, it helps your economic situation. The rewards of quitting are great. The cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products are very costly, as well as the visits to the doctor’s office for related symptoms. The urge to smoke is very powerful, making the first weeks the hardest, because you may continue to have strong cravings for cigarettes. These feelings will fade over time. Make a plan that you can stick with and recruit others that may be able to support your progress and make you accountable.    

Although you have been smoking most of your adult life, quitting will improve your health and add years to your life expectancy. After you quit, your clothes and breath smell better, you can breathe better, have more energy, and lower your risk of a serious illness or premature death.   

Good luck and don’t stop quitting. 

Check out support groups such as The Great American Smokeout from the American Cancer Society, or Smokefree60+ from the National Cancer Institute, and Clear Horizons: A Quit-Smoking Guide for People 50 and Older, for more information.

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