Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Older adults and smoking

Main Content


Older adults and smoking

​​​​About 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 smoke tobacco. Smoking tobacco is a major cause of death and many health problems. 

Smoking and health problems

Smoking can make certain health problems worse in older adults, including:

  • diabetes, osteoporosis, and lung problems
  • mental health problems, such as depression and issues with memory and concentration
  • blindness

Older adults who smoke also have a higher risk of:

  • medicines not working the way they should (smoking can affect how some medicines work in your body)
  • not being able to do daily activities
  • poorer relationships with family (compared to people who have quit smoking or have never smoked)

Benefits of quitting

It’s never too late to quit smoking. Even if you’re over age 60 and have been smoking for years, there are many benefits to quitting.

Quitting can slow the effects of:

  • long-term health ​problems (such as cancer and COPD)
  • age-related issues with memory and concentration
  • dementia

Other benefits of quitting smoking at any age include:

  • medicines work better
  • daily activities are easier to do
  • closer relationships with family members
  • improved sense of taste and smell
  • better quality life and longer life
  • pride in being a positive role model for your family and grandchildren
  • more money
  • lower risk of fire-related deaths

Where to start

It can be hard to quit smoking. Talking to your healthcare provider about wanting to stop smoking is a great first step. It’s also shown to improve your chances of quitting.

Your healthcare provider can tell you about prescription and over-the-counter medicines (such as nicotine replacement therapy) to help you quit.
Your healthcare provider can also give you information about counselling and other types of support—such as a support group—to help you quit.

Dementia and smoking

Research shows that smoking is linked to a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Quitting smoking may help prevent these conditions. And if you or a family member or loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, quitting smoking may slow the effects of these conditions.

The right plan and supports are especially important when someone with dementia is trying to quit. A person with dementia may still ask to smoke, even if they’re not craving nicotine or they have just had a cigarette. This is often related to the habit of smoking, rather than craving or withdrawal

If you or a family member or loved one has dementia, talk to a healthcare provider about medicines and other ways to quit smoking.

More information

Find out more about quitting smoking and medicines to quit smoking.

​For support and information to help you quit smoking:

Current as of: August 31, 2023

Author: Tobacco, Vaping and Cannabis Program, Alberta Health Services