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From Lighting Up to Giving Up

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, chances are you’re either a current or former smoker. What’s more, smoking has probably been part of your life for many years.

Many of us want (or wanted) to quit. But why did we start smoking in the first place? Why do we want to quit? And if we do quit, will it help us enjoy life as much as the other milestones in our life?

We wanted to know the answer to these questions and more. So we’ve surveyed over 2,000 current and former smokers to get some answers!

34% of women started smoking between 12 and 16 years of age.

Peer pressure

Many of those surveyed started well before the legal age of smoking. According to the survey, 34% of women who took part started smoking between the ages of 12 and 16, while 31% of men said the same (Tweet this). The majority of smokers/ex-smokers quizzed said that they had done so between the ages of 17 and 21.

With people starting that young, you might jump to the conclusion that peer pressure was the culprit.

However, when asked directly about whether peer pressure led to smoking, only 24% of men said yes, compared to 22% of women. 21% of women said that they took it up to impress a friend or partner, while 19% of men did likewise.

So what led most of these people to try smoking so young? Our survey showed that the majority of both men and women began smoking out of curiosity – which just goes to show that children will experiment with their vices even if it is illegal for them to do so.

24% of men said peer pressure lead to smoking.

The hardest part

Taking up smoking can be surprisingly easy, but the same cannot always be said of giving up.

In actual fact, both men and women claimed it was even more difficult than moving house; when presented with five high stress scenarios, 56% of men and 57% of women said that giving up smoking was the worst. Moving house came in second place, with female respondents worrying far more than their male counterparts (Tweet this).

What was even more shocking was that females found stopping smoking even more stressful than having a child! (Tweet this)

Reasons to quit

Most of our survey respondents expressed a huge desire to give up smoking, with differing reasons.

The reasons for quitting among both genders were varied, but personal well-being seems play a huge role: 52% of men and 60% of women said they wanted to quit for health reasons (Tweet this).

Financial issues, perhaps not surprising given the ever increasing cost of a pack of cigarettes, was the second most popular answer overall.

Although nearly one in four women said that smoking had actually improved their social life, a similar proportion (26%) of men and women said that it had contributed to deterioration in their social lives and relationships with family.

Furthermore, over one quarter of women (26%) said that smoking has helped to improve their love life too, which seems strange given the negative correlation between smoking and sex.

What makes us enjoy life

Beyond quitting, many respondents in the survey spoke of their plans once they had said goodbye to those little white sticks.

When asked about the top three milestones in their lives, becoming a parent came first, followed by getting married and falling in love. But quitting for good was also considered important – with many respondents who had given up saying it had dramatically improved their lives.

Top 3 milestones.

32% of 25-34 year-olds said that their career prospects had improved once they gave up, as well as relationships with family members. Surprisingly, 34% of 45-54 year-olds said that their health hadn’t changed once they quit smoking.

However, the overall majority of smokers found that smoking had a negative effect on their health. This appeared to be the leading reason as to why the over-55’s wish to quit, as they were more likely than any other age group to say that health made them happier than anything else.

Achieving major milestones, keeping healthy and saving money is something many of us aspire to. Getting rid of obstacles such as unhealthy habits can help to change all that.

Have you quit smoking, OR switched to vaping? What difference did it make to your life – and did it help you enjoy life more (or less!)? Let us know in the comments.

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