Younger Smokers Are More Likely to Quit Than Older Smokers

Blood test 'to help smokers quit'
Blood test ‘to help smokers quit’
While past research has found that young smokers are more likely to attempt to quit smoking, findings regarding age and success of quitting is conflicted. This study examines the degree to which smoker age is related to making quit attempts and quit success.

Younger smokers are more likely to try to quit smoking than older smokers. Not surprisingly, those who smoked less often were more likely to be successful. That’s according to a 4-country survey conducted between 2002 and 2014. The results of the survey were published in Addiction.

The researchers analyzed survey results from 15,874 smokers in 4 age groups: 18-24, 25-39, 40-54, and 55+ years. The smokers participated in the International Tobacco Control Policy Cohort Survey conducted in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

The researchers measured quit attempts and quit success (smoke-free for 30 days or more).

The researchers found non-daily smokers were significantly more likely to attempt to quit smoking compared to daily smokers (58.2% vs 38.1%). Non-daily smokers were also significantly more likely to successfully quit smoking for at least 1 month compared to daily smokers in both a population limited to those who had made attempts to quit (34.3% vs 22.9%) and a population of all participants (19.6% vs 8.5%).

Older smokers were more likely to smoke heavily and less likely to try to quit. “With every 1-point increase in the heaviness of smoking index, likeliness of both attempts and success were reduced,” the researchers reported.

Of all smokers surveyed, 39% made a quit attempt. Of the smokers who reported no intention to quit, younger smokers were more likely to make a quit attempt than other age categories (25-39: Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.53; 40-54: OR = 0.45; 55+: OR = 0.57).

Limitation include the self-reporting nature of the survey, long follow-up times, and relatively low numbers in the younger age categories.

Overall, the study “points to the importance of cessation interventions in the younger years, where smoking has had less time to become established, and cessation should be easier, reducing the risk of not being able to quit when in the age range where most of the harms occur,” the researchers concluded.


Arancini L, Borland R, Le Grande M, et al. Age as a predictor of quit attempts and quit success in smoking cessation: Findings from the International Tobacco Control 4-country survey (2002-2014). Addiction. Published online March 2, 2021. doi:10.1111/add.15454