Smoke Early, Likely Die Early

Smoking early could increase the chance of dying young. Those who quit, however, reduce that risk significantly, and the younger they quit the better, said the authors of a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).

Cigarette Smoking in the United States

Many adults in the United States smoke tobacco cigarettes regularly or occasionally. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that nearly 14 out of 100 adults were currently smokers in 2018. That equates to 34.2 million US adults at risk for heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other smoke-related diseases.

Who smokes

Smoking occurs at all ages in both men and women. The latest statistics from the CDC for 2018 are:

  • 8% of adults aged 18 to 24 smoke
  • 16% between the ages of 25 and 44
  • 16% between the ages of 45 and 64
  • 8% at the age of 65

Young people also represent a large number of smokers. According to the CDC, around 1,600 teenagers try to smoke for the first time every day, and nearly 5 million middle and high school students use at least one tobacco product, although these statistics include vaping.

Where people live, whether they smoke can play a role. CDC data showed that some states have higher smoking rates than others. A surveillance map showed Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Guam with the highest rates, while Utah, Puerto Rico, California, and Washington had the lowest rates.

The Risk of Young Smokers Dying Early

Some smokers are only 10 years old. One report found that children and adolescents frequently receive cigarettes from adults or other children. You can give money to someone of legal age to buy cigarettes for them. And sometimes cigarettes are stolen.

In the JAHA study, researchers examined the links between smoking in childhood, smoking cessation in adulthood, and the risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease or heart disease. Their study was inspired by an earlier study conducted in Cuba that linked childhood smoking to early mortality. The US researchers wanted to know if this earlier research had generalized results.

The study

The researchers collected recorded data from 424,793 US adults aged 25 to 74 years between 1997 and 2014. Almost 400,000 were enrolled in the study.

They have been grouped by smoking behavior based on the age they started or the age they last smoked. By the end of the study, 4,479 people had died of heart disease or stroke before the age of 75.

When the researchers analyzed the results of those who quit smoking, they found that those who were between:

  • Between the ages of 15 and 34, there was a risk of dying from heart disease or stroke similar to that of non-smokers
  • 35 and 44 years old had a 20% higher risk
  • 45 and 54 years old had a 60% higher risk
  • 55 and 64 years of age had a 70% higher risk

Those who were currently smokers were at almost three times as much risk.

“Preventing the next generation of smoking can save lives, but we must also emphasize that smoking cessation can save lives now and for years to come,” senior author Blake Thomson, PhD, said in a press release. Dr. Thompson is an epidemiologist at Oxford University in the UK.

Give up the habit

Quitting smoking can cause withdrawal symptoms, which make it difficult for some people. To combat cravings, you can try the four Ds:

  • Delay in responding to craving by five minutes. It usually goes away.
  • Take a deep breath to calm yourself down.
  • Have a glass of water.
  • Do something else to create a distraction.

Your doctor can help you too. Nicotine replacement therapy gives you nicotine without smoking. Prescriptions like varenicline do not contain nicotine, but contain ingredients that act on the brain like nicotine.

Ralph Chen is an enthusiast for medical topics and advanced technology. When he’s not writing, he spends a lot of time playing popular PC games.