Introduction: Smoking is among the leading causes of premature mortality and preventable death in the United States. Although smoking contributes to the probability of developing chronic illness, little is known about the relationship between quitting smoking and the presence of chronic illness. The present study investigated the association between diagnoses of one or more chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol) and smoking status (former or current smoker).
Methods: The data analyzed were a subset of questions from a 155-item telephone-administered community survey that assessed smoking status, demographic characteristics, and presence of chronic disease. The study sample consisted of 3,802 randomly selected participants.
Results: Participants with diabetes were more likely to report being former smokers, after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, whereas having hypertension or high cholesterol was not associated significantly with smoking status. The likelihood of being a former smoker did not increase as number of diagnosed chronic diseases increased. Participants who were women, older (aged 65+), or single were significantly less likely to be former smokers. Participants with at least a college degree, those with incomes of 50,000+ US dollars, and those who were underweight or obese were more likely to be former smokers.
Discussion: These findings were inconsistent with research that has suggested that having a chronic illness or experiencing a serious medical event increases the odds of smoking cessation. Supporting prior research, we found that being male, having a higher income, and being obese were associated with greater likelihood of being a former smoker.