Think it’s tough to quit smoking? How about kicking the habit after, oh, about 80 years?
An elderly woman in Britain has quit smoking upon celebrating her 102nd birthday.
The woman, Clara Cowell, has been smoking two or three cigarettes since 1931, which would total 60,000 smokes give or take. She still lives independently.
Evidently her family convinced her to quit not for health reasons but over concerns that she might fall asleep holding a lighted cigarette.
According to her 69-year-old daughter, Clara’s secret for longevity “is a cigarette and a cup of tea with whiskey. That and hard work and poverty. She’s an inspiration,” London’s Daily Mail reports. While celebrating with five generations of her family in a pub, she even danced a waltz.
On this side of the Atlantic, about one in five Americans smoke, with low-income people addicted the most to cigarettes. Smokers are more likely to develop significant medical problems.
According to a recent study, which Clara Cowell would presumably be the outlier, smokers who fail to ever quit lose about a decade of life expectancy.
The study suggests that smokers who quit by around age 40 can stave off an early death. Those who quit between ages 35 and 44 gained back nine of the potential years otherwise lost to smoking. Smokers who quit between 45 and 54 gain back six years, and those who quit between 55 and 64 gained four years. Quitting young, before age 35, erased the entire decade of lost life expectancy.
As Clara Cowell might say, it is never too late to quit. Advantages in life expectancy come with a significant drop in both heart disease and stroke once smoking is ceased, as tobacco use increases the development of blood clots.
Cigarette smoking is the America’s leading cause of preventable deaths, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports, killing about 443,000 people each year. Tobacco use kills as many as 5 million people annually on a global scale. Based on current smoking habits, that number will double by 2030.
If you’re addicted to tobacco and nicotine, do you find Clara Cowell’s example inspiring?