Many studies have examined changes in former smokers' disease risk after smoking cessation. Little is known, however, about differences in the health beliefs and self-reported health characteristics of former smokers in the years following cessation. We examine these differences in former smokers, using data from the 1990 National Health Interview Survey. Current smokers were less likely than people who had never smoked to perceive both smoking and nonsmoking disease risk factors as dangerous. Recent former smokers held beliefs similar to those of respondents who had never smoked. Former smokers who had quit for five years or more tended to believe in the effects of these risk factors even more than those who had never smoked. For self-perceived health characteristics, current smokers generally indicated worse health than did lifelong nonsmokers. Former smokers who had recently quit reported even worse health than current smokers. For certain health indicators, former smokers were more likely to indicate poor health than were current smokers even a decade or more following smoking cessation. These results, based on health beliefs and health characteristics, suggest that former smokers are a diverse group and should not be compared to other smoking-status groups without evaluation of the time interval since smoking cessation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health