Smoking cigarettes is good for you.
Of course, smoking is also very bad for you, and the bad certainly outweighs the good. It causes:
- heart disease
- lung cancer
- and lots and lots of statistics
But that doesn’t mean to say it’s all bad!
In fact, what we are talking about here is Smoker’s Paradox – the idea that although smoking is very bad for you, there are some positives too.
What’s Good about Smoking?
First, we should say that these benefits are controversial.
Many benefits of nicotine are being investigated as the basis for potential treatments. However, some campaigners argue that nothing good can come from either nicotine or smoking.
(We are sure this has nothing to do with anti-smoking anti-nicotine fanatics funded by huge pharmaceutical companies to sell their smoking cessation products 😉 )
So to counterbalance all that, here’s five reasons why smoking is also good for you.
Five Benefits of Smoking
Smoking and Concentration
In one experiment carried out by Wesnes and Warbuton, smokers and non-smokers were required to watch a clock for 80 minute. Every time the hand of the clock paused, they had to press a button.
Not only did smokers outperform non-smokers, they were still performing just as well 60 minutes into the task AND they had 10-15% faster reaction time than the non-smokers.
Nicotine and Aggression
Researcher Norman Heimstra hired smokers and non-smokers to carry out tasks for 6 hours WITHOUT PAUSE. The non-smokers became angry, frustrated and aggressive – but the smokers remained calm. No wonder 80% of prisoners smoke!
Smoking and Memory
Smoking has long thought to have helped with Alzheimer’s, with Dr James Le Fanue arguing smoking makes you 50% less likely to get the dreaded disease.
And when Dr Paul Newhouse gave people with memory problems nicotine patches, they regained 46% of their long term memory.
Meanwhile, those given a patch with no nicotine continued to worsen, losing 26% of performance!
Smoking and Mental Illness
When scientist Alexander Glassman surveyed people with Schizophrenia, he found that an astonishing 86% of sufferers smoked. Some anti-smoking groups explain this by arguing smoking causes and/or trigger mental illness.
However, in addition to helping the brain work better (temporarily!), nicotine is also an antipsychotic and anxiolytic. Meanwhile, psychiatric wards often become disruptive when included in smoking bans.
Ultimately, smoking could both trigger some mental illnesses BUT at the same time be a help to people who already have mental illnesses.
Smoking and Pleasure
There’s a reason people smoke after sex! That’s because nicotine moves your brain to a higher state of arousal. Meaning it can make you feel good – and helps you feel goods things better!
7 More Positive Aspects of Smoking
- lowers risk of Parkinsons Disease
- may reduce risk of breast cancer
- lowers risk of knee replacement therapy
- lowers risk of obesity
- lowers risk of death after some heart attacks
- helps the heart drug clopidogrel work better
- can help both relax and stimulate (depending on how it used)!
Can you think of any more? If so, let me know in the comments section below.
Why don’t people tell us about the benefits of smoking?
We can not see what tobacco contributes
Danish Cancer Society
Unfortunately, there seems to be a paternalistic attitude to the anti-smoking crowd.
Frightened that you are too stupid to make an informed choice about smoking, they’d rather invent crazy theories like third hand smoke (the idea that shaking the hands of a smoker could give you cancer) than admit there are ANY possible benefits from smokers.
I think you are more intelligent than that!
Of course, I have to say, before I get jumped on by a million people, that the benefits of quitting smoking are much greater for you than the benefits of smoking (yawn – you already knew that, didn’t you!)
Fortunately, most of the benefits of smoking seem to accrue from nicotine.
(See Nicotine and Electronic Cigarettes: 10 Facts All Users Should Know.) And nicotine, while addictive, only causes about 1% of the harm of smoking (and carries a similar risk level to coffee.)
So if you can’t quit or don’t want to quit nicotine, but would like to use it in a safer way, consider switching to alternatives like Snus or electronic cigarettes.
Heimstra N.W, Bancroft N. R, DeKock A.R, Effects of smoking upon sustained performance in a simulated driving task, Mar 1967 , DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1967.tb13732.x
Glassman A.H, Glassman AH. Cigarette smoking: implications for psychiatric illness. Am J Psychiatry 150: 546-553. The American journal of psychiatry. 150. 546-53. DOI:10.1176/ajp.150.4.546.
Newhouse, P et al, Nicotine treatment of mild cognitive impairment, A 6-month double-blind pilot clinical trial, Neurology. 2012 Jan 10; 78(2): 91–101. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31823efcbb
Wesnes K, Warburton D.M, Effects of smoking on rapid information processing performance, Neuropsychobiology. 1983;9(4):223-9, PMID: 6646394 DOI: 10.1159/000117969