Objective: To investigate smoking patterns in an elderly, low-income population and to identify predictors of smoking cessation, in addition to analyzing the importance of smoking in relation to other risk factors for hospitalization.
Design: The data were part of an urban health study conducted among 740 individuals aged > or = 60 years in three suburban communities of low socio-economic status in Beirut, one of them a refugee camp. A detailed interview schedule was administered that included comprehensive social and health information.
Results: The overall prevalence of current smokers was 28.1%. Almost half of the group were ever smokers, of whom 44% had quit smoking when they experienced negative health effects. Having at least one chronic illness and having a functional disability significantly increased the odds of smoking cessation. In addition, being a former smoker increased the likelihood of hospital admission.
Conclusions: This study is of particular importance, as it has implications for similar low-income and refugee communities in the region and elsewhere. There is a need for more concerted efforts by public health officials to target elderly individuals as a group for smoking cessation interventions, particularly now that mortality and health benefits have been well documented.