Smokers who cut down rather than quit are unlikely to extend their lifespan, a study shows.
• Smokers who reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke are unlikely to live longer, according to a study by Glasgow and Stirling universities
• Sample of around 5,200 people from the central belt were involved in study and records kept about their smoking habits over four decades
• People who quit smoking altogether had lower mortality rates than those who carried on
Reducing the number of cigarettes smoked does not reduce that person’s risk of early death, according to researchers drawing on more than four decades of mortality rates.
Around 5,200 people from the central belt were recruited to two smoking studies in the early 1970s. They were questioned several years later about whether they quit, reduced, maintained or increased their smoking.
A record was then kept of those who died between the 1970s and 2010.
People who quit smoking had lower mortality rates compared with those who carried on, a team from the universities of Glasgow and Stirling found.
But there was no significant difference found between those who reduced their intake and those who did not.
Professor Linda Bauld, one of the report’s authors from Stirling University, said: “Our results support the view that reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke is not a reliable way of improving your health in the long term. However, what we do now know is that it may have a valuable role as a step toward giving up altogether, through cutting down to quit, an approach that has been recommended in recent guidance in the UK.”
The findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, differ from those of a similar long-term study in Israel which found that cutting back appeared to reduce mortality rates but fit with larger studies of shorter duration in Denmark and Norway in which it did not, researchers say.