A major US study has found that the death rate of a person who quit smoking before the age of 35 was on par with that of a “never smoker”.
The study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Network Open, used data from the American Health Interview Survey and the National Death Index.
“Among men and women of different racial and ethnic groups, current smoking was associated with at least twice the all-cause mortality rate as never smoking,” the study authors wrote in the paper.
“Quitting smoking, particularly at a younger age, was associated with a significant reduction in the relative excess mortality associated with continued smoking,” the authors added.
However, those who quit smoking at a later age showed their mortality.
The study found that people who quit smoking between the ages of 35 and 44 had a 21% higher all-cause mortality rate than those who never smoked. A 47% higher all-cause mortality rate than non-smokers occurred in those who quit between the ages of 45 and 54.
Never smokers are those who have smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.
This is the third such study to find that age 35 is a reasonable age to quit smoking, said John P. Pierce, professor emeritus of the department of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego, and was not involved. in the study, wrote in a review of the study.
“It has long been known that the sooner a smoker quits, the better,” Pierce wrote. “Now, however, it is possible to be more precise with regard to the age at which a smoker quits.”
The survey included more than 550,000 adult participants, aged 25 to 84, who completed questionnaires between January 1997 and December 2018.
The plot included current smokers, ex-smokers and non-smokers.
Using data from the National Death Index, the researchers found that nearly 75,000 study participants had died by the end of 2019.
The worst-performing group, according to the study, were non-Hispanic white smokers, who had the highest all-cause mortality rate — about three times that of never smokers.
On the other hand, non-whites, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic, showed a slightly lower mortality rate, which was about twice that of never smokers.
The lower death rate in this group could be due to fewer cigarettes per day on average. They also start smoking at an older age and are less likely to smoke daily, compared to Caucasians.
“These results remind us that reducing smoking (cigarettes per day) should be one of the goals of tobacco control programs,” Pierce said.