To examine recent trends in cigarette smoking among older (65 years and above) adults in the United States.
We used data from the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey dataset to estimate rates of smoking, quitting, and (re)starting from 2005 to 2012. Medicare Advantage enrollees completed mail surveys at baseline and two years later. We included subgroup analyses by sex, race, and self-rated health.
Smoking prevalence declined slightly, with most of the decline occurring over the course of a single year (2007–2008). Rates of quitting declined slightly (meaning fewer people were quitting), and (re)starting marginally declined from 2005 to 2012. There were no substantial differences between subgroups. We did not observe any significant changes in prevalence or cessation of smoking among Medicare Advantage participants during this time.
Smoking remains a public health problem for older adults. We did not find evidence of significant changes in smoking prevalence or cessation for older adults during the time period we examined.