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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 02:22 GMT
Retired 'winning smoking fight'
Cigarette butt
Could retirement be a natural time for change?
Reaching retirement presents a golden opportunity to finally kick the smoking habit, research suggests.

The Peninsula Medical School, in Devon, followed 1,712 smokers over six years to measure their success in giving up.

The success rate among those who had recently retired was 42.5%, but among those still in work it was 29.3%.

Researchers said retirement may make it easier to make other major lifestyle changes, but workers thinking of quitting should still attempt to do so.

Other research released by the Peninsula Medical School, in Exeter, to coincide with No Smoking Day suggested smokers are generally unhappier than non-smokers.

Retirement is one of the great transitions in life, which is why a greater proportion of people may find it easier to make significant changes elsewhere in their lives
Dr Iain Lang
Peninsula Medical School

Both studies were carried out by Dr Iain Lang.

He said: "Retirement is one of the great transitions in life, which is why a greater proportion of people may find it easier to make significant changes elsewhere in their lives at this time.

"We are excited at the possibility that what we have seen with smoking may also apply to other aspects of lifestyle, like eating more healthily and doing more exercise."

Happiness test

Amanda Sandford, from campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, said of trying to quit: "Don't put it off until retirement age. Lots of people in their 30s and 40s are able to quit and improve their health.

"Smoking is also an extremely expensive habit - and the Budget could mean it gets even more expensive."

Dr Lang's second piece of research looked at questionnaires from more than 9,000 people aged over 50, using a technique to measure quality of life and life satisfaction.

On average, smokers experienced lower average levels than non-smokers, with the difference even more pronounced in lower socio-economic groups.

There were no clues as to whether pre-existing lower levels of contentment might be one of the factors pushing people towards cigarettes in the first place, or whether their life satisfaction would have been even lower without cigarettes.

Dr Lang said: "People may feel like they're getting pleasure when they smoke a cigarette but in fact smokers are likely to be less happy overall.

"Smoking doesn't make you happy - in fact, it's associated with poorer overall quality of life."

Lung age

A study by GPs published last week found that an effective method of getting smokers to quit was to tell them how much their habit was ageing their lungs.

More than 500 patients were given the results of lung tests, translated into the "age" of their lungs compared with the rest of their bodies, reported the British Medical Journal.

One in eight of the patients told this managed to quit smoking immediately - and even those told that their lung tests were normal were more likely to quit.

"If lung age is normal, there is an incentive to stop before it is too late," the researchers wrote.

"If lung age is abnormal then this is a clear message that the lungs are undergoing accelerated deterioration that would be slowed if the smoker stopped."

This year's No Smoking Day event marks a quarter century for the campaign, and is the first to fall with no-smoking legislation covering the entire UK.

Organisers say they expect more than two million people to attempt to give up smoking.

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