Concerns About Weight Affects Drive to Quit Smoking

weight-concernsEvery year millions of dollars are spent in the United States on anti-smoking campaigns. While such policies do have an effect on a number of people, new research suggests that some demographics are not deterred by efforts aimed at convincing them to quit. A new study has found that women concerned about their weight are less likely quit smoking in the face of anti-smoking campaigns, Science Daily reports.

“We found that concerns about weight are a significant barrier to quitting,” says lead author Ce Shang of the University of Illinois at Chicago, “among U.K. smokers and U.S. female smokers who believe smoking helps them manage weight.”

Many smokers have a misguided belief that smoking cigarettes helps them stay slim by suppressing their appetite. In a society that puts a lot of value in appearance, naturally many will feel that the benefits outweigh the costs.

However, Shang points out that statistically, people who smoke more tobacco are more likely to be overweight than those who smoke less, “so the idea that smoking helps control weight is really unfounded. The health benefits that come from quitting allow for more healthy methods of weight control, such as exercise.”

The International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project survey data from about 10,000 smokers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia was analyzed by the researchers, according to the article. The researchers found that a 10 percent price increase did not significantly increase quitting attempts by women who thought smoking helps control weight, compared to a 6 percent increase in quitting attempts among those who did not believe that smoking helps control weight.

The same pattern was true among women exposed to anti-smoking messaging. Women who did not believe smoking had any bearing on weight showed a 12 percent increase in quit attempts with a 10 percent increase to ad-campaign exposure. Whereas, those who believed smoking did have an impact showed no increase in quitting attempts.

The findings were published in the journal Tobacco Control.