What’s The Facts?
Since I was 11 years old, I have smoked. I’ve seen it all when it comes to advertising, false or otherwise, ignorance and the spin doctors for big tobacco do their stuff. I’ve come to realise that many factoid-driven myths about smoking refuse to go away, erroneous or not. If someone paid me a dollar each time I had to refute these statements, I’d be living the rich and famous lifestyle.
Their persistence is largely due to there being a platform for those who utter them to express unvoiced, but clear prejudices which reflect deeply held beliefs about women, the disadvantaged, mental illness, government health campaigns, what they perceive to be “natural”.
Here we’ll take a direct look at these myths and try once again to enlighten those who still cling to them.
1. Women and girls smoke more than men and boys.
Women do not now, nor have they ever smoked more than men. 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 surpassed women who smoke by far.
In 1945 in the United Kingdom, the number of men who smoked were nearly three quarters more than women.. By the 60s and 70s, 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.
Yes, what about all the “young girls” you can see smoking, I’m always asked. In 2014, 13% of 17-year-old male high school students and 11% of females smoked. In two younger age bands, girls smoked more, it’s true, but only by 1 percentage point. Which is probably due to a younger girl trying to ‘fit in’ with an older crowd and then deciding smoking isn’t for her.
However, those who keep on insisting girls smoke more are probably are letting their ignorance, sexism and prejudicial outrage show by paying more attention to the younger girls than the actual facts.
2. Stop Smoking ads don’t work on people of lower incomes.
It’s true that lower income smokers are more prevalent than one might think, however studies do show that with a good strategy to stop smoking and use of replacement therapy can help these people stop smoking.
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.
When it comes to quitting, 46% of the most disadvantaged have quit compared to 66% of the least disadvantaged over the last five years.
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. Roll up cigarettes aren’t dangerous.
Those smokers who roll their own cigarettes will 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 which cause the problem, while the tobacco, being a “natural” substance, is somehow harmless.
This myth was proven to be incorrect by several different authorities and when the the tobacco companies were ordered to provide them with factual data on the total weight of additives in factory made cigarettes, roll-your-own and pipe tobacco.
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.
4. All people with Schizophrenia smoke.
As if there weren’t enough disparaging stereotypes and false information out there regarding mental health, they had to go out and make this one up. Yes, people with different mental health issues do make up a majority of smokers, however, there are no studies which conclusively prove that ALL of them smoke, regardless of what issue they may suffer from.
Smoking has been aimed at anyone and everyone with any sort of stress related issue, social problems, nerves, and countless other afflictions in order for big tobacco companies to continue making millions off the backs of the ill-informed, the mentally ill and the gullible. With the bans against advertising years ago to the education of people across the planet, we are slowly discovering the truth without being pressured by billion dollar industries.
5. You can reduce the health risks by cutting down.
While it is true that if you smoke three cigarettes a day rather than fifteen, the risks of early death is lessened somewhat.
However, trying to outrun the risk by just cutting down rather than quitting smoking has been shown in at least four large independent studies and the truth is that regardless of what brand, or how many cigarettes you smoke, there are serious health risks which you need to be aware of.
Quite simply, to reduce risk, you need to quit.
There are many more myths out there regarding smoking and we’ll talk about those in other articles, so stay tuned. For now though, remember that the best way to quit smoking is to vape and we here at Medusa Juice can help make it even easier. Have a look around the blog, website and feel free to ask if you have any questions.
Let us help you help yourself.