To estimate the impact of smoking on quality-adjusted life years (QALY) for US adults aged 65 years and older.Methods
Using the 2003-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality File, we estimated the mean QALY throughout the remaining lifetime by participants' smoking status as well as smoking intensity and time since cessation.Results
Never, former and current smokers had a mean QALY of 16.1, 12.7 and 7.3 years, respectively. Among current smokers, those who started smoking before age 18 had fewer QALYs than those who started at or after age 18 (6.0 and 8.5 years, respectively) and those smoking ≥20 cigarettes per day had fewer QALYs than those smoking <20 cigarettes per day (6.6 and 8.1 years, respectively). QALYs also declined with a longer duration of smoking and a shorter time since cessation. The potential gains if a person quit smoking would be 5.4 QALYs, and the gains would increase with a longer time since quitting as well as quitting at a younger age.Conclusions
This study demonstrated the dose-response effect of smoking status on QALY. The results indicate the health benefits of tobacco cessation at any age and sizeable losses for former or current smokers.