Study: Anti-smoking efforts not reaching older smokers
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Anti-smoking campaigns since 1965 have succeeded in getting many younger men to quit tobacco, but have been less successful among older smokers, a new study shows.
There remains a hardcore group of smokers older than 40 who are unable to break their addiction to tobacco and need innovative products to cut their risk of cancer, said Dr. Brad Rodu, an oral pathologist who worked with epidemiologist Philip Cole on the study.
The study by the researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was announced Monday. It will be published Feb. 20 in the International Journal of Cancer.
Using lung cancer death rates of men born from 1901 to 1942, the study revealed that the decrease in deaths following anti-smoking campaigns after 1965 were much more pronounced in men under the age of 40.
The need for innovative new tobacco products with a reduced risk of cancer is needed to cater to these older smokers, Radu said. About 420,000 thousand smokers over the age of 40 die annually from smoking-related diseases, he said.
"Smokers who continue the habit until they are 40 years old become irreversibly addicted to nicotine," Radu said in a release. "Nicotine is one of the most powerful of human addictions."
Several tobacco companies are test-marketing new forms of nicotine delivery, Radu said, such as smokeless oral packets or lozenges. Although the compressed-tobacco products carry a minimal risk of cancer, Radu said, they are seen as a less dangerous alternative to smoking.
Radu and Cole have been studying tobacco-related deaths since 1993. In 1999 the United States Tobacco Co. of Greenwich, Conn., awarded a five-year, $1.25 million research grant to the university.
The grant was unrestricted and the company has agreed to have no no influence over the research, Radu said.