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Published On: Sat, May 5th, 2018

New Study Puts Mindset of Smokers in a New Light

A massive global study has shed new light on the psychology behind smokers across the globe. According to ju, the vast majority of smokers know and acknowledge it is bad for their health. Yet they continue to smoke simply due to the pleasure they derive from it – much as they do with eating, drinking or socialising.

More than 17,000 individuals from 13 different countries across the globe were quizzed on their smoking habits. Smokers, ex-smokers and non-smokers were consulted to give an accurate assessment of the causes behind smoking for individuals over the age of 18.

photo/ public domain pictures via pixabay

The findings gave a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a smoker – and the challenges faced by public health bodies which are trying to cut smoking numbers.

“Smoking is deeply integrated into most smokers’ daily lives, so quitting means more than just giving up cigarettes,” concluded the study.

It went on to list some of the physical, behavioral and emotional challenges facing smokers wishing to quit. Not only are they forced to battle physical addiction caused by the nicotine inside cigarettes, but they must also overcome the habitual nature of smoking as well as the pleasure obtained from it. But perhaps most shocking of all is the awareness smokers have of the harm they are doing to themselves.

The vast majority of those asked knew that smoking was bad for them, thought of themselves as less healthy than non-smokers and considered themselves addicted to cigarettes.

Huge strides have been made in recent decades to educate the general public about the dangers of smoking. Those efforts have been rewarded with a serious decline in smoking numbers across the developed world. As much as that should be embraced, this study illustrates the fact that a great many smokers are either incapable of quitting or simply do not wish to do so, despite being aware of the additional risks of smoking.

That lends weight to the approach of harm reduction, which looks at gradually reducing the impact of smoking on the individual and those around them instead of pursuing a cold turkey strategy. It has been actively implemented by the likes of the UK, Sweden and Holland – all of which boast some of the lowest smoking rates in Europe.

Things such as electronic cigarettes have proved to be a vital tool – as their numbers have increased, smoking rates have fallen as smokers are able to resort to a viable and less dangerous alternative. Debate continues to rage over the safety of electronic cigarettes, although Public Health England – which, for the first time ever, has started to encourage their use as a quitting tool – believes them to be at least 95 per cent less harmful than a traditional cigarette. Progress is also being made on heat-not-burn technology. This works by heating tobacco to significantly lower temperatures, causing no combustion.

It is hoped that heat-not-burn products could be the next step in offering smokers yet another alternative while also reducing the dangers of smoking.

Studies from both the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in the UK and Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment have concluded that heat-not-burn does indeed expose the user to significantly fewer carbonyl and volatile organic compounds compared to normal cigarettes. Obstacles do remain, however. The US Food & Drug Administration are yet to approve the sale of the IQOS, while sales have also slowed in Japan. Yet with more than 5M users already globally and billions of dollars poured into its development, heat-not-burn does look like it is here to stay.

And with the State of Smoking survey providing some sobering findings on the mindset of smokers, viable alternatives will inevitably be needed if traditional tobacco smoking as we know it is to be stubbed out.

Author: Veselina Dzhingarova

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. robert innes says:

    The 95% figure can be misleading. There are interesting statistics behind the estimate. For example, “…the cancer potencies of e-cigarettes were largely under 0.5% of the risk of smoking.” Yet, when we read misleading reports on particulates, metals or aldehydes, they are talking about cancer risk.

    To date we are seeing, more and more, the idea that e cigarettes are far safer than even that which conservative 95% claim promotes

    But, thank you for another positive article on the topic.

    Here is the link to the Public Health England evidence review. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-and-heated-tobacco-products-evidence-review/evidence-review-of-e-cigarettes-and-heated-tobacco-products-2018-executive-summary#health-risks-of-e-cigarettes

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