Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Feature Article 

Clinical Implications of Smoking and Aging: Breaking Through the Barriers

Janine K. Cataldo, PhD, RN, BC

Abstract

In the United States, there are almost 4 million smokers older than 65. Yet, older smokers often receive suboptimal care. Inaccurate information and myths about older smokers may have become ingrained in the attitudes and beliefs of both older smokers and health care providers. In this article, prominent myths about older smokers will be explored and refuted. The realities include the following: Smoking tobacco has no benefit; it does not improve cognition or mood; smoking cessation, even among older, frail adults, produces significant benefits in terms of health and quality of life; and using filtered cigarettes or reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day does not reduce harm. Gerontological nurses are at the forefront of treating tobacco use among older smokers. They should assess the smoking status of all older adults at every contact, treat smokers with pharmacotherapy and counseling, follow up with patients, and stay informed.

Abstract

In the United States, there are almost 4 million smokers older than 65. Yet, older smokers often receive suboptimal care. Inaccurate information and myths about older smokers may have become ingrained in the attitudes and beliefs of both older smokers and health care providers. In this article, prominent myths about older smokers will be explored and refuted. The realities include the following: Smoking tobacco has no benefit; it does not improve cognition or mood; smoking cessation, even among older, frail adults, produces significant benefits in terms of health and quality of life; and using filtered cigarettes or reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day does not reduce harm. Gerontological nurses are at the forefront of treating tobacco use among older smokers. They should assess the smoking status of all older adults at every contact, treat smokers with pharmacotherapy and counseling, follow up with patients, and stay informed.
Authors
Dr. Cataldo is Visiting Assistant Professor, Center for Tobacco Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Address correspondence to Janine K. Cataldo, PhD, RN, BC, Visiting Assistant Professor, Center for Tobacco Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, 530 Parnassus Avenue, Suite 366, San Francisco, CA 94143; e-mail: janine.cataldo@ucsf.edu.

10.3928/00989134-20070801-06

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