by Martha Kerr

Last Updated: 2007-10-22 17:05:43 -0400 (Reuters Health)

CHICAGO (Reuters Health) – A study of more than 2,000 smokers shows that younger smokers are more concerned about cost, odors and oral health, while older smokers are more concerned about major health threats. Success in helping patients to quit is improved if the treatment approach is tailored to that patient.

Results of a study of 2,052 smokers being treated for tobacco dependence were presented Monday by principal investigator Virginia Reichert at CHEST 2007, the 73rd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, which is being held here this week.

Reichert and colleagues at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Great Neck, New York, compared the smoking cessation experiences and obstacles to success between smokers between 17 and 65 years of age and those older than age 65, all of whom were enrolled in a six-week comprehensive smoking cessation program.

Reichert told meeting attendees that at 30 days, 58% of subjects in both groups had successfully stopped smoking. "We offered them whatever helped," Reichert said, including counseling, hypnotherapy, nicotine replacement therapy or other pharmacologic measures.

Weight gain after quitting was cited as a concern in 30% of the younger smokers compared with 15% of older smokers, stress management after quitting was a concern of 59% of the younger group compared with 45% of the older group. Difficulty handling social situations after quitting was a concern in 24% of younger smokers and in 7% of older smokers. Cravings were a fear of 44% of younger and 36% of older smokers.

The primary reasons cited by older smokers for wanting to stop smoking were because of a negative effect on the relationship they had with their physicians and the "stress of a major health problem."

The primary reasons younger smokers gave for wanting to stop were the expense of cigarettes, the odors associated with smoking, and general health concerns, with oral hygiene, specifically, a concern.

"We need to zero in on the concerns of the individual patient and focus on the things that are important to that age group," Reichert told Reuters Health. "For example, we would talk to them about ways to control their weight if that is a concern for them…And we give them anything that will help them stay on the bandwagon. It’s all about the willpower. We do everything to support their will."

Copyright Reuters 2007.