Smokers who quit smoking before the age of 40 can expect to live almost as long as those who never smoked, a new report has said.

The study, published in the journal NEJM Evidence, showed that those who quit at any age return close to never-smoker survival 10 years after quitting, and about half that benefit occurs within just three years.

“Quitting smoking is ridiculously effective in reducing the risk of death, and people can reap those rewards remarkably quickly,” said Prabhat Jha, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

The study included 1.5 million adults in four countries (the US, the UK, Canada, and Norway), followed over 15 years. Smokers between the ages of 40 and 79 had an almost three-fold risk of dying compared to those who never smoked, meaning on average they lost 12 to 13 years of life.

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The researchers found that former smokers reduced their risk of death to 1.3-fold (or 30 percent higher) compared to non-smokers.

“Stopping smoking at any age was associated with longer survival, and even those who quit for less than three years gained up to six years in life expectancy,” the study noted.

Many people think it’s too late to quit smoking, especially in middle age, according to Jha.

“But these results counter that line of thought. It’s never too late, the impact is fast and you can reduce risk across major diseases, meaning a longer and better quality of life,” he added.

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In addition, the researchers discovered that quitting smoking lowered the risk of dying from vascular disease and cancer, in particular. Former smokers also reduced their risk of death from respiratory disease, but slightly less so, likely due to residual lung damage.