Smoking cessation rates in the United States: a comparison of young adult and older smokers

Am J Public Health. 2008 Feb;98(2):317-22. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.112060. Epub 2008 Jan 2.


Objectives: We compared smoking quit rates by age in a nationally representative sample to determine differences in cessation rates among younger and older adults.

Methods: We used data on recent dependent smokers aged 18 to 64 years from the 2003 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (n=31625).

Results: Young adults (aged 18-24 years) were more likely than were older adults (aged 35-64 years) to report having seriously tried to quit (84% vs 66%, P<.01) and to have quit for 6 months or longer (8.5% vs 5.0%, P<.01). Among those who seriously tried to quit, a smoke-free home was associated with quitting for 6 months or longer (odds ratio [OR]=4.13; 95% confidence interval [CI]=3.25, 5.26). Compared with older smokers, young adults were more likely to have smoke-free homes (43% vs 30%, P<.01), were less likely to use pharmaceutical aids (9.8% vs 23.7%, P<.01), and smoked fewer cigarettes per day (13.2% vs 17.4%, P<.01).

Conclusions: Young adults were more likely than were older adults to quit smoking successfully. This could be explained partly by young adults, more widespread interest in quitting, higher prevalence of smoke-free homes, and lower levels of dependence. High cessation rates among young adults may also reflect changing social norms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / therapy
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology