Originally published as two columns on The Conversation, we bring you the definitive list of 20 myths about smoking that will not die by Simon Chapman, University of Sydney
forty years I’ve come to recognise many factoid driven myths about smoking that just won’t die. If I asked for a dollar each time I had to refute these statements, I’d have accumulated a small fortune.
Their persistence owes much to their being a vehicle for those who utter them to express unvoiced but clear sub texts that reflect deeply held beliefs about women, the disadvantaged, mental illness, government health campaigns and the “natural”.
Let’s drive a stake through the heart of ten of the most common myths.
1. Women and girls smoke more than men and boys
Women have never smoked more than men.Cheap Jerseys from china Occasionally, a survey will show one age band where it’s the other way around, but from the earliest mass uptake of smoking in the first decades of last century, men streaked out way ahead of women.
In 1945 in Australia, 72% of men and 26% of women smoked. By 1976, men had fallen to 43% and women had risen to 33%.
As a result, men’s tobacco caused death rates have always been much higher than those of women. Women’s lung cancer rates, for example, seem unlikely to reach even half the peak rates that we saw among men in the 1970s.
Currently in Australia, 15% of men and 12% of women smoke daily.
But what about all the “young girls” you can see smoking, I’m always being told. In 2014, 13% of 17 year old male high school students and 11% of females smoked. In two younger age bands, girls smoked more (by a single percentage point).
Those who keep on insisting girls smoke more are probably just letting their sexist outrage show about noticing girls’ smoking than their ignorance about the data.
2. Quit campaigns don’t work on low socioeconomic smokers
In Australia, 11% of those in the highest quintile of economic advantage smoke, compared with 27.6% in the lowest quintile. More than double.
So does this mean that our quit campaigns “don’t work” on the least well off?
Smoking prevalence data reflect two things: the proportion of people who ever smoked, and the proportion who quit.
If we look at the most disadvantaged group, we find that a far higher proportion take up smoking than in their more well to do counterparts. Only 39.5% have never smoked compared with 50.4% of the most advantaged see table 9.2.6).
When it comes to quitting, 46% of the most disadvantaged have quit compared to 66% of the least disadvantaged (see table 9.2.9).
There is a higher percentage of the disadvantaged who smoke mainly because more take it up, not because disadvantaged smokers can’t or won’t quit. With 27.6% of the most disadvantaged smoking today, the good news is that nearly three quarters don’t. Smoking and disadvantage are hardly inseparable.
3. Scare campaigns ‘don’t work’
Countless studies have asked ex smokers why they stopped and current smokers about why they are trying to stop. I have never seen such a study when there was not daylight between the first reason cited (worry about health consequences) and the second most nominated reason (usually cost).
For example, this national US study covering 13 years showed “concern for your own current or future health” was nominated by 91.6% of ex smokers as the main reason they quit, compared with 58.7% naming expense and 55.7% being concerned about the impact of their smoking on others.
If information and warnings about the dire consequences of smoking “don’t work”, then from where do all these ex smokers ever get these top of mind concerns? http://www.cheapnfljerseysonlinez.top They don’t pop into their heads by magic. They encounter them via anti smoking campaigns, pack warnings, news stories about research and personal experiences with dying family and friends. The scare campaigns work.
4. Roll your own tobacco is more ‘natural’ than factory made
People who smoke rollies often look you in the eye and tell you that factory made cigarettes are full of chemical additives, while roll your own tobacco is “natural” it’s just tobacco. The reasoning here that we are supposed to understand is that it’s these chemicals that are the problem, while the tobacco, being “natural”, is somehow OK.
For example, data from 1991 supplied by WD HO Wills showed that in 879,219kg of cigarettes, there was 1,803kg of additives (0.2%). While in 366,036kg of roll your own tobacco, there was 82,456kg of additives (22.5%)!
Roll your own tobacco is pickled in flavouring and humectant chemicals, the latter being used to keep the tobacco from drying out when smokers expose the tobacco to the air 20 or more times a day when they remove tobacco to roll up a cigarette.
5. Nearly all people with schizophrenia smoke
It’s true that people with mental health problems are much more likely to smoke than those without diagnosed mental health conditions. A meta analysis of 42 studies on tobacco smoking by those with schizophrenia found an average 62% smoking prevalence (range 14% 88%). But guess which study in these 42 gets cited and quoted far more than any of the others?
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