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J Gerontol Nurs. 2003 Sep;29(9):15-20.

Smoking and aging. Clinical implications. Part I: Health and consequence.

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School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


Smoking is the number one preventable cause of disability and mortality in older adults. In the past few decades there has been an enhanced focus on smoking behaviors and smoking cessation, however, the older smoker has been excluded. Even though nonsmoking status can provide older smokers with a chance for increased quality as well as quantity of life, they are asked less often to quit, given fewer resources, and provided less guidance than younger smokers. There is limited knowledge about how to design and deliver interventions for smoking cessation among older adults. The explanation for the absence of an empirical and clinical focus on smoking cessation for the older adult is in part because of the belief in myths rather than reality. These beliefs about the health consequences of smoking behaviors and the benefits of smoking cessation for older smokers are held by older adults and their health care providers. However, the truth is that older adults can stop smoking, and the benefits are vast.

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