The Happiness Quotient

Defending the Habit

When asked by their loved ones and colleagues to quit, smokers tend to defend their habit as one of their only pleasures in life. They beg others to leave them alone and claim that smoking makes them happy. However, the most recent study, coming out of Peninsula Medical School in England's South West says otherwise.

Dr. Iain Lang of the Peninsula Medical School did extensive research on the relationship between smoking and psychological satisfaction. Dr. Lang's research team measured quality of life with a system known as CASP-19 and determined that the general level of pleasure and well-being experienced by smokers is lower than average when compared to the levels of non-smokers. Those smokers of lower socioeconomic groups had an even more pronounced reduction in quality of life.

No Satisfaction

The study involved 9,176 participants aged 50 and older. These study subjects were culled from ELSA, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Several angles were looked at in the course of the study. Subjects included those who had never smoked, those who used to smoke, and current smokers. The participants were from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. As Dr. Lang summed it up, "We found no evidence to support the claim that smoking is associated with pleasure, either in people from lower socio-economic groups or in the general population."

Dr. Lang also commented on the fact that smokers delude themselves that the relief they get from assuaging their addiction is a form of happiness. This is only an imagined sense of happiness, something like scratching an itch, and doesn't speak to overall quality of life. The fact is that smoking leads to a decrease in a person's quality of life since there is a constant negative impact on a person's health.

Those who are from the lowest socio-economic stratum are taking what little money they have to spend on an addiction that harms their health. They buy cigarettes instead of spending their earnings on food, shelter, and utilities. Those who spend much time with them suffer from the affects of second hand smoke and this also detracts from the quality of life of the smoker, since there is a feeling of guilt for causing the ill effects as well as concern for the ill person. There is also the decrease in the quality of life due to the time spent in doctors' offices having scary tests and expecting the worst.

Dr. Lang comments, "Anyone thinking of giving up smoking should understand that quitting will be better for them in terms of their well-being—as well as their physical health—in the long-run."