A new study has quashed the common misconception that quitting cigs is harmful for elderly smokers, by showing that older people face a high risk of death if they continue puffing.
The four-year study at the University of Hong Kong, has disputed some universal delusions among elderly smokers who believe that quitting cigarettes will kill them.
For the study, the researchers compared the risk of death for 56,000 smokers and non-smokers aged 65 and above who had registered at the department of health's 18 elderly healthcare centers between July 1998 and December 2000.
Results showed that elderly smokers were more likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, as compared to non-smokers.
The team also found that while ex-smokers were 50 percent more likely to die from cancer than non-smokers, those who kept smoking were more than twice as likely to develop the disease.
Researchers demonstrated that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was boosted by nearly 25 percent for former smokers and to more than twice that figure for those who continued fagging.
On the contrary, giving up cigs lessened the risk of death by 20 percent.
"The study implies that old people face a high risk of death if they keep smoking," China Daily quoted Lam Tai-hing, head of the university's department of community medicine, as saying.
"The misconception that quitting is harmful is common in developing countries and regions where people are not aware that smoking is bad for their health," he added.
Lam further explained that it is normally easier for old smokers to give up cigarettes, as many of them had already experienced the damaging effects of fags.