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Seniors: Any age is a good age to quit smoking

A grandmother and granddaughter cooking in a kitchen.

Smokers of all ages can benefit from quitting. The health rewards include less risk of serious diseases and better overall health.

After smoking for so many years, you might try to convince yourself that kicking this old habit seems pointless. It's probably too late to do you any good, right?

Wrong.

The truth is, quitting smoking is a smart move that can improve your health at any time of life.

Rapid rewards

As soon as you quit smoking, your body starts to recover. Here are some of the benefits you can expect in the weeks and months after you give up the habit:

  • Your senses of taste and smell will improve. As the days go by you'll notice that your favorite foods taste even better and things like flowers smell more intense.
  • You'll breathe more easily. As a result, daily activities—from household chores to playing with grandkids—should become easier to perform without becoming winded.
  • You'll have less risk for pneumonia and other respiratory infections that can be especially dangerous in older people.
  • You'll save money. (You can use this calculator to tally the financial cost of smoking.)
  • Your circulation will improve.
  • You won't be exposing others to secondhand smoke.
  • You'll set a healthy example to your children and grandchildren.

A brighter future

In addition to offering immediate benefits, quitting smoking will also improve your health in the years to come. According to the American Cancer Society and other experts, quitting may help you look forward to:

A longer life. Quitting at any age can add as many as 10 years to your life. Those extra years may enable you to do things like see your grandchildren get married or take a much longed-for trip.

A lower risk of heart disease and stroke. When you quit smoking, your chances of having a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular disease will decline. Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease will be almost equal to that of someone who's never smoked.

Less chance of cancer. Your lung cancer risk depends, in part, on how much and how long you've smoked. And the sooner you quit, the greater the benefit. Ten years after quitting, your risk of lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk for kidney, pancreas, throat and other smoking-related cancers also goes down after you quit.

Improved lung health. Quitting can lower your risk for diseases such as emphysema. It may even help if you're already affected by a lung disease. For example, though damage from emphysema is permanent, quitting can help keep the disease from getting worse. And for people who have asthma, quitting smoking can help reduce the number of flare-ups from the disease.

Join the crowd

The smartest thing you can do for yourself and your family is to stop smoking. And quitting is definitely doable: Millions of people of all ages have done it.

If you need help, ask your primary care provider. Stop-smoking aids, including nicotine replacement therapies, can help you succeed.

Reviewed 11/2/2022

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