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Incidence of chronic disease following smoking cessation treatment: a matched cohort study using linked administrative healthcare data in Ontario, Canada


Scarce evidence is available on the impact of real-world smoking cessation treatment on subsequent health outcomes, such as incidence of chronic disease. This study compared two cohorts of people that smoke—those that enrolled in a smoking cessation program, and a matched control that had not accessed the program—to assess the incidence of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, and major cardiovascular events over a 5-year follow-up period. We selected five sub-cohorts with matched treatment-control pairs in which both individuals were at risk of the five chronic diseases. Incident chronic disease from index date until December 31, 2017, was determined through linkage with routinely collected healthcare data. The cumulative incidence of each chronic disease was estimated using the cumulative incidence function with death as a competing risk. Gray’s test was used to test for a difference between matched treatment and control groups in the chronic disease-specific cumulative incidence function over follow-up. Analyses were stratified by sex. Among females, cumulative incidence of diabetes was higher over follow-up for the treatment group (5-year cumulative incidence 5.8% vs 4.2%, p = 0.004), but did not differ for the four other chronic diseases. Among males, cumulative incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (12.2% vs 9.1%, p < 0.001) and diabetes (6.7% vs 4.8%, p < 0.001) both had higher 5-year cumulative incidence for the treated versus control groups but did not differ for the other three chronic diseases. We conclude that accessing primary-care based smoking cessation treatment is associated with increased incidence of diabetes for both sexes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for males (possibly due to under diagnosis prior to treatment), within 5 years of treatment. The associations detected require further research to understand causal relationships.



Baliunas D, Voci S, Selby P, de Oliveira C, Kurdyak P, Rosella L, Zawertailo L, Fu L, Sutradhar R. PLoS One. 2023; 18(7):e0288759. Epub 2023 Jul 26.

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