Smoking Does Not Relieve Stress
> 8/16/2009 1:38:22 PM

A new report gives lie to a classic pro-smoking argument: cigarettes help an anxious smoker relax. 47% of those polled in a recent British survey claimed not to enjoy the physical act but named its supposed stress relief properties as the main reason they continue to smoke. This may be because, as the newest study concluded, tobacco users report "frequent" stress in their daily lives far more often (50% of the time) than those who've quit smoking (35%) and those who never did (31%).

The study, released by Pew Research Center, also found that smoking heightens anxiety indexes more than other demographics like age, education and income. It seems unlikely that smokers are simply more anxious by nature. In fact, statistics reveal that rates of anxiety are highest among educated, high-income subjects but that these individuals are least likely to smoke. Those who live beneath the poverty line conversely smoke more often than all others. But within these individual groups, the trend holds: smokers report considerably higher stress levels.

US smoking rates have unfortunately leveled after a fifty-year slide with slightly more than 1 in 5 Americans still smoking every day. We can only hope that these numbers drop further, as lower smoking rates would save billions each year in health care costs alone. If the near-majority of smokers who do it to relax knew how ineffective it actually is, would they try a little harder to quit? This extensive survey offers a huge collection of comparative statistics, but a simple conclusion may be drawn from it: people who smoke to relieve stress do themselves no favors.

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