60-Second Science

Smoking Can't Buy Happiness

Smokers tend to be less happy than nonsmokers, and the effect is heighened the lower their economic status. Karen Hopkin reports.

Podcast Transcript: For someone who smokes, there’s nothing like that first nicotine rush of the day. But though taking a puff may bring smokers pleasure, it doesn’t make them happy. Or so say scientists at the Peninsula Medical School in the UK. The scientists assessed the wellbeing of nearly 10,000 people age 50 or over who signed up for something called the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. They found that the smokers in that group reported lower average levels of pleasure and less satisfaction with their lives than the non-smokers. And for smokers in the lower socioeconomic groups, the situation was even more grim.
According to Iain Lang, the lead researcher on the team, smokers may feel pleasure when they light up. But that’s because they’re feeding their addiction. Overall, they’re not any happier than nonsmokers. In fact, they’re less so. Maybe because cigarettes cost, at least here in the US, like seven bucks a pack. So, next time you see one of those cigarette ads filled with beautiful young people having the time of their lives, remember, those people are models. They’re getting paid buckets of money to look like they’re having fun. A nice big bucket of cash would probably make you happy, too.

—Karen Hopkin

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