How do you convince a 90-year-old to quit smoking?

First off, three reasons not to take up smoking:

  1. Smoking isn’t cool anymore.
  2. Smoking is expensive.
  3. Smoking could kill you.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems pretty obvious that smoking is a bad idea. Didn’t the Surgeon General warn us about that back in the ’60s? Smoking’s only survived this long because it’s part of the culture.

Given that, what if you already smoke? If you already smoke, things change. Suddenly, you have one big, ol’, fat reason to continue: nicotine. Nicotine makes it a lot harder to quit, but rationally it’s still probably the best choice.

The situation changes again and gets much worse, though, when you’re talking to a 90-year-old. Is there any decent reason a 90-year-old should quit smoking?

Think about it…

  1. Ninety-year-olds don’t care about cool. If they were trying to be “cooler,” they’d probably start by changing their wardrobe or musical preferences instead of their smoking habits.
  2. Ninety-year-olds don’t care about saving money. Sure, smokes aren’t cheap, but what are they going to do with an extra few bucks a day anyway… put it toward retirement? Why not spend it on the pleasures they enjoy?
  3. Ninety-year-olds don’t care about it killing them. If it’s going to kill them, it’s going to kill them anyway, whether they stop at that point or not.

The 90-year-old smoker wins.

“Ah,” you say, “What about the example they’re setting for the younger generation?” That might be the best reason I can think of for a 90-year-old to quit. But even that seems weak.

How much do 90-year-olds influence the younger generation anyway? I’d like to think they’re still passing on wisdom, but isn’t it a stretch to assume that any younger person would start smoking just ’cause a 90-year-old smokes?

The more I consider this, the more difficult it seems. And the more I’m convinced that 90-year-olds have no reason to quit smoking.