Learning Objectives: Recognize the significance of older smokers to comprehensive tobacco control programs. Understand the current status of research on smoking cessation and older persons. Understand the results of new focus group research on what motivates older smokers to try to quit and what messages and messengers resonate with older smokers. Discuss/describe how smoking cessation and nicotine replacement therapy programs can be targeted to older smokers, both as a part of overall smoking cessation efforts and as free-standing projects.
Abstract: In large measure, older persons have not been on the radar screen of tobacco control professionals for smoking cessation treatment. Yet, almost 73 million Americans are aged 50 and over, about 26.9% of the total U.S. population (34 million are 65 and over, 12.7% of the population). About 10.9% of men and 11.2% of women aged 65+ currently smoke, and 25% of men and 22% of women aged 50 to 64 smoke. Almost 13 million persons aged 50+, including almost 4 million aged 65+, currently smoke.
Yet, there has been little research on the beliefs, motivations and characteristics of older smokers. According to Tracy Orleans in Tobacco Control in Fall, 1997, "cessation-oriented research published since 1990 has shown that older smokers are highly responsive to targeted smoking cessation programmes, and that they are at least as likely as younger smokers, if not more, to succeed in quitting."
Most states are now devoting more resources to smoking cessation. Few of these efforts have devoted attention to older persons, and virtually none have developed well-researched, targeted programs to reach older smokers.
We will describe the demographics of aging and tobacco-related health issues faced by older persons. Included will be the findings of the first-ever focus groups, conducted in 2001 by the National Center for Tobacco-Free Older Persons, which examined the beliefs of older smokers and former smokers regarding smoking cessation. Also, an analysis of research on smoking cessation and older persons, and a description of smoking cessation efforts targeted to older persons.
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