How Can Elderly Quit Smoking?
Addictions Data Verified

Smoking Cessation In Older People

Published on Jan 27, 2023 and last reviewed on Sep 16, 2023   -  4 min read


Smoking can cause severe health issues and can shorten life. However, quitting the habit at any time can improve health and add years to life.


Quitting smoking may be hard to achieve, especially for a person who has been smoking for years. With age, health issues may worsen or start showing altered symptoms. Smoking is a psychological habit, and the nicotine content can cause physical addiction. It usually takes several attempts to quit the habit once the person gets addicted. Willpower is the key to successfully saying a complete ‘NO’ to smoking.

Why Is Quitting Smoking Essential in Old Age?

A smoker gets respiratory infections like flu and pneumonia (lung infection) faster than a non-smoker. Smoking increases the risk of cancer and stroke (brain damage due to reduced blood supply to the brain). It can cause damage to the heart and lungs. Osteoporosis or weak bones affects the elderly and reduces their mobility, which gets worsened by smoking. Smoking can increase the chances of cataracts (opacity of the eye’s lens), vision loss, and other eye damage. Smoking makes a person quickly tired and makes the skin unhealthy and wrinkled.

Immediately after quitting the habit, the person may experience many health benefits, like:

  • Improved blood circulation.

  • Normalized blood pressure.

  • Decreased heart rate.

  • Easier breathing.

  • Immunity against cold, flu, sinus infections, and lung diseases.

Over time, the person starts feeling more energetic, and the benefits hit almost all the systems. For example, quitting smoking lowers the risk of:

  • Heart attack (reduced blood supply to the heart).

  • Stroke (brain damage due to decreased blood supply to the brain).

  • Breathing problems like bronchitis (inflammation of the lining of airway passages) and emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs).

  • Cancers of the mouth, lungs, and food pipe.

  • Osteoporosis (weak bones).

  • Hearing loss.

  • Vision damages.

  • Dementia (affecting thinking, social behavior, and memory).

  • Type 2 diabetes (increased blood sugar level).

How to Quit Smoking in Old Age?

Quitting smoking can only be done step by step.

Getting Help: With age, health conditions usually worsen, and the individual may be asked to quit smoking by a doctor. Help from the doctor and family members is essential, encouraging the individual even more to achieve the goal.

Getting Prepared: The most crucial step is doing appropriate pre-quitting planning. It has to be done sequentially and mindfully. Deciding and confirming the date of quitting is important. Quitting will be stressful. Therefore, it is essential to set the date one or two weeks later, giving enough time for the mind and body to adapt to the decision. Spreading the word with family and friends helps to feel accountable for the action. It also helps in receiving more support throughout the quitting period.

Getting assistance from a counselor may help to achieve a strong mind. Discussing with ex-smokers and those who are trying to quit sincerely will also be beneficial to get prepared. Stocking up with mints and gums and gradually cutting down on smoking until the quit date should also be considered. Keeping a journal and noting down the place and time smoking has been done will help to track the frequency. The smoking journal will also help remind the individual about the process and the progress.

Getting Into Action: Medications like Bupropion and Varenicline and nicotine replacements like nicotine patches and drugs can help to deal with withdrawal symptoms. Stress may increase the chances of smoking and can be controlled by relaxing exercises like meditation and yoga.

Being busy most of the time will keep the mind distracted from the thought of smoking. Chewing mint or gum can be considered to keep the mouth busy. Finally, throwing away all the cigarettes on the quit day is essential. Rewarding the self each week during the process will also encourage consistency.

Managing the Cravings: It is essential to throw away all the materials related to smoking, like lighters and ashtrays. Washing the articles of clothing and curtains and cleaning the surroundings help the environment stay smoke smell free and reduce the emergence of thoughts related to smoking.

Cigarette cravings may frequently appear, but waiting about 10 to 15 minutes will help eliminate the feeling. Caffeine stays in the body longer after tobacco cessation, and cutting back on its consumption is necessary. Avoiding alcohol and staying away from places like bars should also be considered.

Staying Motivated: Self-motivation and willpower are vital. Thinking of oneself as a non-smoker and refusing the offered cigarettes will make the person stay on track.

Saving cigarette money in a jar, watching it increase, and using the money to reward the self occasionally for quitting smoking will also improve the joy. Eating a low-fat and healthy diet and working out can make the mind and body strong and healthy.

What Are the Common Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms?

Cigarettes contain a chemical called nicotine which triggers the release of chemicals that make the individual feel good. Over time, the brain demands nicotine to work well. When stopped, the brain gets irritable and starts showing withdrawal symptoms. As the body withdraws nicotine, many physical symptoms start showing up. It may start after one hour and come to a peak about the third day after quitting. Common symptoms are:

  • Anger and irritability.

  • Increased cigarette cravings.

  • Irritability and difficulty concentrating.

  • Nervousness and restlessness.

  • Headache.

  • Tremor (shivering).

  • Coughs.

  • Insomnia (hard to sleep).

  • Tiredness.

  • Constipation.

  • Decreased heart rate.

  • Depression.

Certain medications can reduce withdrawal symptoms.

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy- Nicotine gum, patch, sprays, and lozenges can substitute nicotine. In nicotine replacement therapy, cigarettes will be replaced by nicotine substitutes. It releases steady and slow doses of nicotine without any harmful effects caused by smoking. This helps to break addiction and eases coping with the new routine.

  • Non-nicotine Medication- Medicines like Bupropion and Varenicline are non-nicotine medicines that can be used for a short period to relieve the symptoms.

The above medications can help one relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms.


Most smokers require multiple tries before permanently quitting smoking. Quitting is hard. But knowledge about the health benefits of quitting encourages the person to stop the habit. In addition, strong support from friends and family is also essential. Finally, staying self-motivated and enhancing willpower will keep the person on track.

Last reviewed at:
16 Sep 2023  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Are increased heart rate and anxiety side effects of Z-pack?

Query: Hello doctor, I am a 34-year-old female who is a smoker. My doctor prescribed Z-pack for me yesterday. I have shortness of breath and chest tightness, I also had wheezing, but he did not hear it when he listened to my breathing. I am really worried about taking this antibiotic because even though I ...  Read Full »

Will coughing up phlem due to smoking for long period be chronic bronchitis?

Query: Hello doctor, I am 23 years female. For about three years or so, I have been coughing up phlegm consistently. It has almost become a routine. When I consulted an (ear nose and throat) ENT doctor, they did not see anything wrong and just said that my nostrils look little swollen, so he prescribed me ...  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Quitting Smoking or ?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.