Older persons are more vulnerable to tobacco mortality and less likely to make quit attempts. Less is known, however, about the role of race and ethnicity on quit rates in the U.S. Using a nationally representative data source of older adults in U.S., we aimed to study racial and ethnic differences in smoking cessation rates.
We used data from all waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) between 1992-2012. The HRS is a longitudinal nationally representative survey of adults over the age of 50 in the United States. We followed current smokers at baseline (year 1992) until time to first quit. Race/ethnicity was the main predictor; gender, age, education, marital status, count of chronic medical conditions, depressive symptoms, and drinking at baseline were control variables. Cox regression was used for analysis of time to quit.
Hazard ratios of quitting during the first ten (Hazard ratio = 1.51, p < 0.05) and 20 years (Hazard ratio = 1.46, p < 0.05) were larger for Latinos over the age of 50 compared to Whites. In addition, hazard ratios of quitting during the first 20 years (Hazard ratio = 1.19, p < 0.05) were larger for Blacks over the age of 50 compared to Whites. These findings were partially explained by cigarette consumption intensity, such that Latinos were lighter smokers and therefore more likely to quit than Whites.
Latinos and Blacks were more likely than Whites to quit smoking cigarettes within 20 years. However, this finding may be explained by cigarette consumption intensity.