What is the ideal age to quit smoking?

Never two without three. After two previous studies, a third large study has just identified – and confirmed – the ideal age to quit smoking. And it would be… 35 years! Stopping smoking before this level would maintain a mortality rate similar to that of non-smokers. ScienceAlert echoes this analysis.

“Currently, smoking is associated with a death rate at least twice that of people who have never touched a cigarette in their life. Now we can be much more specific and disprove that generality.”write the authors of the study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

This analysis brought together data from the US National Health Interview Survey, i.e. responses to a questionnaire monitoring the health of the population from January 1997 to December 2018 National Death Index. In order to ensure its representativeness, the panel was made up of more than 550,000 adults aged 25 to 84 at the time of recruitment, whether they were regular smokers, quit smoking or non-smokers (the latter having consumed less than a hundred cigarettes in their lifetime).

All of these resources led to one conclusion: people who quit before the age of 35 have a mortality rate from all causes very close to that of individuals who have never smoked, “especially for those who started young”says John P. Pierce, professor emeritus in the department of public health at the University of California at San Diego.

On the other hand, stopping the consumption of tobacco between the ages of 35 and 44 would raise this rate to 21%, and to 47% for the age group going from 45 to 54 years.

There’s always time to stop

“In the absence of an immediate objective, everyone thinks there is still time. Setting a deadline of 35 years could be a source of motivation for those who wish to quit smoking., writes John P. Pierce. However, breaking a habit is not child’s play and can even be very complicated. But according to the professor, reducing the intensity of smoking is already a great step forward: “People who don’t smoke daily are already seeing their risk go down.”

However, this study has some limitations: information on participants’ smoking habits was collected at one point in time, implying that subjects may have quit or started smoking after being interviewed. “The true dangers of cigarettes and the benefits of quitting smoking may thus be underestimated in this analysis”warn the authors.

Still, nothing is lost after 35: quitting smoking, regardless of age, reduces the risk of premature death anyway. As the saying goes, better late than never.

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