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Carolina Gerard
  January 29, 2019

How Smoking Can Affect the Elderly

Millions upon millions of Americans smoke, and the elderly population is no exception. But as smokers age, the ill effects of smoking—and there are a lot of them—start to come to fruition, and it’s important to know what they are. It’s equally important to know what benefits can come from stopping smoking, even within the first 20 minutes.

There’s no way to tell the exact number of people who smoke cigarettes, primarily because so many people do. However, the best estimates say that around 38 million people currently smoke.

When we refer to “smoking” throughout this article, this include people who inhale smoke from tobacco products like:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Cigarillos

This does not include marijuana, which doesn’t cause the health issues associated with smoking tobacco (and other chemicals within tobacco products). This also doesn’t include smokeless products like chewing tobacco and spit tobacco, either, though these can have similarly severe health effects, especially on the mouth and gums. Lastly, when referring to “smoking,” we don’t include vapor products because there has not been enough research conducted on those products to see the long-lasting health effects they have on humans.

So before we dig into how smoking affects an elderly person’s body, let’s look at how many people smoke.

There’s no way to tell the exact number of people who smoke cigarettes, primarily because so many people do. However, the best estimates say that around 38 million people currently smoke.

This means they have smoked at least 100 cigarettes and smoke at least one every day or so, according to the Centers for Disease Control. (CDC) About 17 percent of men smoke and about 13 percent of women regularly smoke.

Older people have the highest percentage of people who smoke, according to the CDC. These statistics include:

  • About 18 percent of all people between 45 and 64 (the highest of all age groups)
  • Around 9 percent of everyone between 65 and up

Different races, on the other hand, have different smoking rates. Native Americans (31.8 percent) and people with multiple races (25.2) have the highest rates while Asians (9 percent) and Hispanics (10.7 percent) have the lowest rates.

Smoking is one of the leading killers in the United States, too. Nearly 500,000 people die every year due to complications from smoking. That edges on one out of every five people who die.

One study found that 70 percent of all deaths related to smoking happened to people over 60. So while millions of people across all age groups smoke, it’s the elderly who eventually suffer the consequences.

old-lady-smoking

There are thousands of chemicals in these products, and they do viciously harmful things to your body, especially as you age.