Significant evidence has emerged on the life-extending benefits of quitting smoking. Remarkably, the benefits of quitting smoking extend to individuals of any age.
Life expectancy for people who quit smoking approaches that of never-smokers within a decade of quitting — half of this advantage manifesting within the first three years.
Beacon of hope for smokers
Conduced by researchers from the University of Toronto at Unity Health Toronto, the study reveals that individuals who stop smoking before reaching 40 years of age have the potential to live nearly as long as those who have never indulged in smoking.
Prabhat Jha, a prominent professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, and the executive director of the Centre for Global Health Research at Unity Health Toronto, emphasized the efficiency of quitting smoking.
“Quitting smoking is ridiculously effective in reducing the risk of death, and people can reap those rewards remarkably quickly,” Jha stated, highlighting the swift and significant health benefits of cessation.
The research tracked 1.5 million adults across four nations — the U.S., UK, Canada, and Norway — over a span of 15 years.
It found that smokers aged 40 to 79 were almost three times more likely to die than their non-smoking counterparts, effectively shortening their lifespan by 12 to 13 years.
On a brighter note, individuals who quit smoking saw their risk of death decrease to 1.3 times that of never-smokers. Even those who had quit for less than three years observed a life expectancy gain of up to six years.
Debunking myths: It’s never too late to quit smoking
Jha countered the common misconception that quitting smoking later in life may be futile.
“Many people think it’s too late to quit smoking, especially in middle age,” said Jha. “But these results counter that line of thought. It’s never too late, the impact is fast and you can reduce risk across major diseases, meaning a longer and better quality of life.”
The study further identified that the reduction in mortality risk was particularly notable in deaths caused by vascular disease and cancer.
While former smokers also saw decreased mortality from respiratory diseases, the improvement was slightly less pronounced, likely due to lasting lung damage.