Smoking cessation and quality of life: the effect of amount of smoking and time since quitting

Prev Med. 2001 Dec;33(6):653-60. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2001.0941.


Background: Knowledge of the impact of smoking cessation on health-related quality of life may be important in encouraging smokers to quit. We determined whether the difference in quality of life between ex- and current smokers is influenced by amount of smoking or time since quitting.

Methods: Data were collected within a cross-sectional study among a random sample of the general population in The Netherlands. Health-related quality of life was measured with the RAND-36 questionnaire (adapted from SF-36). Smoking behavior was assessed with a self-administered questionnaire. Adjusted differences in quality of life scores between ex- and current smokers were tested with multivariate analysis of variance, among 9,660 men and women aged 20-59 years, without history of tobacco-related chronic diseases.

Results: Ex-smokers reported significantly higher quality of life scores than current smokers. This was more pronounced for mental health, especially for role functioning limitations due to emotional problems (difference 6.5 points; P < 0.0001), than for physical health dimensions. Differences were generally larger between ex- and current heavy smokers than between ex- and current light or moderate smokers (P trend <0.05 when ex-smokers had quit <5 or > or =10 years ago). No significant trend was observed with time since quitting.

Conclusions: Generally, the higher the amount of smoking, the higher were quality of life differences between ex- and current smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Quality of Life*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors