Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Benefits of cigarette smoking

As the biggest preventable cause of death in developed countries today (lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, emphysema) smoking nevertheless, has numerous benefits for smokers. I thought I’d articulate them.
Smoking provides pleasure in terms of euphoria and, of course, reduced withdrawal symptoms from those addicted to nicotine.

Smoking produces decreased tension and an anxiolytic effect – a tranquilising effect and reduced muscle tension. It implies Nesbitt’s paradox - smoking generates physiological and psychological changes normally thought of as incompatible, namely increased arousal and awareness with decreased stress. It stimulates concentration but keeps you calm. A great combination!

Smoking also acts as an appetite suppressant by reducing the desire for sweet food and carbohydrates.

Nicotine probably helps ADHD sufferers reduce their ‘attentional deficits’.

Smoking probably reduces problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease and perhaps schitzophrenia.

(Smoking also provides libertarians with the opportunity to parrot on about their rights to freedom of choice, even if they make mistakes, and the opportunity to attack anti-smoking fascists like me).
But the news is not all good even for this somewhat restricted class of benefits!

Attentiveness improvements decline (fairly slowly it must be admitted) when nicotine addicts are deprived of their nicotine.

The accuracy of cognitive performance and memory is impaired among adolescent smokers irrespective of how recently they smoked.

Adolescents with prenatal maternal exposure to nicotine experience greater cognitive deficits relative to smokers without prenatal exposure suggesting long-term cognitive impairment. Did your mum smoke and do you? If so, seek help.

Nicotine seems to have a negative effect on brain function well into young adulthood that result from the fact that the brain is slow to mature. Nicotine seems to be neurotoxic with negative impacts on the prefrontal cortex of the brain that has long-term damaging effects. In short, there is evidence several years smoking during adolescence causes permanent brain dis-function.
On this last point scientists agree that chronic smoking might cause cognitive damage among older smokers as well although there are animal studies suggesting that the damage is concentrated among the young (here, page 167).

If you do wish to access the health and other benefits of smoking cited above wait until you are at least in your mid-twenties. If you last this long you probably won't smoke anyway.

Irony aside, from a public policy viewpoint, every effort should be made to stop young people (young here defined liberally, say up to age 25) from smoking. Vaccination is an option.


Sam Ward said...

Hopefully in your brave new world, they will also develop vaccines to protect the stupid from the dangers of alcohol, fast cars, premarital sex and chocolate.

Sounds like a fun place to live, excuse me while I go jump off this bridge.

hc said...

Welcome back Sam - more fun without lung cancer and emphysema and with a fully-developed fore brain.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with premartial sex?

Anonymous said...

anonymous is a jackass cock sucking piece of shit dumb mother fucker

Anonymous said...

smoke some dope to man good stress reliever if something bad happen in your life same with cigarettes.

Mark Davis said...

I've never seen any evidence that smoking reduces muscle tension. Because it is sympathetic-mimetic it likely increases muscle tension - however perception of muscle tension may be reduced or changed by nicotine.
Also classing nicotine as anxyiolytic is controversial. It seems to operate completely differently to all aother anxiolytics. Moreover it only displays anxiolytic properties when the user is tobacco dependant and has been deprived of nicotine. The evidence shows that smoking increases stress and anxiety but the moment of smoking temporarily relieves the long term nicotine created anxiety (I'd say it temporarily hides or distracts the smoker from increased muscle tension.)
Take a look at this:

Anonymous said...

I like to smoke.
I think smoking is really enjoyable and I think quality of life is great.
I do not want to be a dementia sufferer living for years as a burden on others.
The fountain of youth mentality is just going to go up in smoke when society tires of the masses of aged draining resources.
Whilst I appreciate that smoking is not for everyone I think it is a reasonable lifestyle choice for those whom choose to enjoy whilst recognising the risk involved.