Does Quitting Smoking Improve Personality?

Living 2011/09/14 22:00:00
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Everyone knows cigarettes are bad for you. If you haven't seen the Surgeon General warnings they've been slapping on cigarette packs since 1970, you'll certainly notice the graphic images they're switching to.

But emphysema and lung cancer might not be the only things smokers run the risk of developing. According to a University of Missouri study lead by Andrew Littlefield, they could face another kind of cancer.

Personality cancer.

OK, so those aren't exactly the words he used to describe it, but his research did determine smokers are frequently more impulsive, anxious, and "emotionally negative" than nonsmokers.

Not to fear, though, smokers. Littlefield says the problem can be overcome completely by following one simple step: quit smoking.

He explained, "Smokers at age 18 had higher impulsivity rates than nonsmokers at age 18, and those who quit tended to display the steepest declines in impulsivity between ages 18 and 25."

At least it's curable. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about many of the physical symptoms of prolonged cigarette use.

The study also showed smokers who were struggling with depression saw significant improvements in their mood when they were finally able to quit, claiming they were "never happier" than when they kicked the habit.
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  • Mark In Irvine 2011/09/15 00:10:04
    Mark In Irvine
    it may take a little time to get there, but quitting will make you feel better, and you're less likely to be a grouchy a-hole if you feel good. IMHO.

    quitting feel grouchy a-hole feel imho

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  • mercuryman11 2011/11/30 01:31:54
    I have smoked for 34 years, I cant even believe it. i have quit for anywhere from a few days to 18 months at at time. but smoked i would guess about all but 5 of the last 34. every time i quite, i felt less anxious, less stressed, and lighter hearted. i dont think it matters so much for all opeople, but if your thinking about quitting 360 days a year, or about 6000 times a year by the cigarette, it does begine to affect personality. it began to consume me. i finally quiit and i hope for the last time as if i start agian i will die with one in hand, and never have a real relatioonship. 5 days into this, and im edgy, a bit frantic at times, crave about 80% of the day, but i feel hope for tomorrow already. If you dont think about quitting, i dont think it matters all that much. Unless maybe the toxins really start to mess with the chemicals in the brain. alchohol does, whyt not other toxins?
  • billycat98 2011/10/23 20:13:03
    quit smoking doesnt inprove personality your actions do
  • Yes
    I quitted smoking for almost 2 yrs now and I felt alot better!!!!!!
  • Moonage 2011/09/16 13:21:09
    In my case, I'm happier because I don't have a monkey on my back. But, when stressed, taking a cigarette time-out often diffused situations that now seem to go longer and I'm much more likely to toss out zingers in public that I'm quite sure I wouldn't have when I smoked. Plus, there's the annoyance of being around other smokers now that obviously didn't exist then. So, no, I'm not a better personality because I quit. I do however, smell much better and my teeth are pearly white.
  • dopple Moonage 2012/01/09 15:18:27
    What about stressful situations where you couldn't quickly escape to get a cigarette? The tension I felt in those moments was unbearable. Further, I would guess that even people who have never smoked are annoyed by being around smokers, although perhaps less so.

    In my experience, I am far less anxious as a non-smoker. I used to tremble with anxiety given a stressful confrontation. I'm able to handle myself much better, now.

    Besides, I still take time-outs and go outside to have some deep breaths.
  • Moonage dopple 2012/01/09 15:25:51
    For a large part of my life, I'd simply light up during the situation. The anti-smoking stuff didn't really affect things until ten years ago or so here.

    I think a lot of that was age. I'm older, mellower, and less excitable than I was then. I don't really get into situations now where taking a time-out means a whole lot. Used to I had a much more aggressive personality than I do now. I don't have a problem simply walking out of a stressful situation now.
  • Chris 2011/09/16 06:46:03
    I can tell a joke and laugh now without coughing for 5 minutes afterwards.... helps people enjoy my magical personality.
  • ally 2011/09/16 05:52:31
    My best friend quit smoking 6 weeks ago and I've never seen her more grumpy.
  • tewaz1 2011/09/16 04:31:15
    In my experience, quitting smoking pretty dramatically reduces one's positivity, and not only from withdrawal, once a smoker has successfully quit, they often become the most self righteous of smoke snobs.
    I have a very difficult time believing the results of this study. Was it published? Far to much attached stigma in this area makes it entirely too easy to introduce a systematic bias in data gathering and interpretation.
    Finally, I would argue that being either emotional or impulsive are as much character flaws as being rational or cautious. All four characteristics are positive in moderation and flaws in excess.
  • carlton999 2011/09/16 04:08:17
    my personality didn't change after I quit.
  • KingdomNow 2011/09/16 03:45:30
    Since when is character linked to whether one uses tobacco or not?
  • edifyguy 2011/09/16 02:50:51 (edited)
    Actually, smoking generally affects your personality in positive ways, as tobacco contains a number of different compounds with anti-depressant and calming effects.

    Want to see total bogus science? This is it at its best: "Smokers at age 18 had higher impulsivity rates than nonsmokers at age 18, and those who quit tended to display the steepest declines in impulsivity between ages 18 and 25." Why is this bogus? Because the impulsivity could have caused the smoking just as easily as the smoking the impulsivity, and in fact the impulsivity is far more LIKELY to be the cause than the effect. The same is truee with the quitters. Those who were thinking about their lives were more likely to reconsider smoking (due to all the crap circulating about it) than those who were still living impulsively.

    I am SO sick of people making up garbage to try to gin up anti-smoking sentiment I could scream. Hitler did that too......

  • ScottyG - Faqueue 2011/09/16 02:46:40
    ScottyG - Faqueue
    What does smoking and personality have in common? Nada!
  • edifyguy ScottyG... 2011/09/16 02:50:40
    Not so, read my comment above!
  • ScottyG... edifyguy 2011/09/16 02:53:37
    ScottyG - Faqueue
    Dammit I said it does nothing, what are you just thick? Why ask a stupid question like this? If you were next to me I'd punch you out.

    Wait, Wait for it.......AHHHH I just lit one up. I'm all better now.
  • edifyguy ScottyG... 2011/09/16 02:56:01
    ROFL. They can have things in common, but not in the ways that most think. :D
  • TooSweet 2011/09/16 02:31:32
    No,but is an A+ to your charactor.
  • wtw 2011/09/16 02:02:28
    Never saw anyone that did that!
  • The River Rat 2011/09/16 01:26:30
    The River Rat
    Every time I have quit for up to 6 weeks, I am grumpy as heck and gain lots of weight, which make me even grumpier.
  • Paul 2011/09/16 00:21:01
    The person I know with the most personality smokes a pack a day.
  • TMan 2011/09/15 22:28:45
  • GasMaskBoy 2011/09/15 22:02:55
  • KSolove 2011/09/15 21:30:13
    Actually, I believe that it just depends on the person. I haven't changed personality wise at all, but know others that went from really mellow people to nerve racking psychos and vice versa. So, again it just depends on the person.
  • Beat Magnum True Hero 2011/09/15 20:47:37
    Beat Magnum True Hero
    It didn't change mine when I quit, but I know quite a few ex-smokers who are one soap-opera away from me personally buying them the next carton.
  • edifyguy Beat Ma... 2011/09/16 02:58:37
  • marcie 2011/09/15 20:22:41
    I didn't feel better after I quit, I got fat, suddenly had tons of allergies I had never had before so I went back to smoking, most allergies dissappeared and I began to lose weight again and reached my pre quit weight. Jumped from a size 5 to a 12 then back to a 5.
  • edifyguy marcie 2011/09/16 03:00:25
    Tobacco actually has many therapeutic effects. Congratulations on being willing to thumb your nose at all the nannies who cluck at smokers and do what works for you.
  • marcie edifyguy 2011/09/16 04:54:40
    thank you!
  • Todd *RP 2012* 2011/09/15 19:44:02
    Todd *RP 2012*
    Every time I've attempted to quit, I came dangerously close to injuring those who annoy me. That tells me that quitting smoking is potentially more hazardous to the health of those around me than continuing smoking is to my health.
    Which is why I'm taking advantage of my long vacation to quit again, hopefully this time it sticks.
  • JohnFitzgeral12 2011/09/15 19:26:45
    What a bogus study. Impulsivity naturally declines.
  • Tamara McMillan 2011/09/15 19:26:33
    Tamara McMillan
    I do not agree for reasons others have already stated but it is a fact it will improve your health if you do not smoke. Stay away from the second hand stuff too if it is of a huge concern to you.
  • moonchild 2011/09/15 19:03:39 (edited)
    "He explained, "Smokers at age 18 had higher impulsivity rates than nonsmokers at age 18, and those who quit tended to display the steepest declines in impulsive between ages 18 and 25.""

    Okay- could it be that people with higher impulsivity rates are simply more likely to become smokers in the first place? One could argue that the decision to pick up the habit is impulsive and so does smoking make one impulsive or are impulsive people more likely to smoke? People prone to depression tend to self medicate- and that is often with drugs like nicotine- so is it the nicotine that is causing the increased depression among smokers, or is it that depressive people are more likely to smoke?

    The decline in impulsivity can also be related to the fact that the older one gets, the less impulsive they get.. and people quit smoking, obviously, when they are older than when they started.

    One of the fundamental rules in statistics like these is that correlation ≠ causation.
  • Tamara ... moonchild 2011/09/15 19:23:11
    Tamara McMillan
    I agree with all that you stated!
  • edifyguy moonchild 2011/09/16 03:03:40
    I'm glad that I'm not the only one who knows how to think. The people who make this garbage up know that most people will fall for their logical fallacies. The Nazi Fuhrer would be proud that his war on smoking continues......

  • apachehellfire65 2011/09/15 17:35:06
    it didn't mine! i got down right nasty there for awhile.
  • Tamara ... apacheh... 2011/09/15 19:24:25
    Tamara McMillan
    Same here. . . hope to quit again and actually HAVE . . . but I am not working right now either so the real test will be next month when I go back to the world of work and breaks!
  • Tina 2011/09/15 17:33:19
    When I tried to quit over 20 yrs ago, I was called a "bitch" all the time by friends and family!
  • OneLastWord 2011/09/15 17:32:07
    Quitting smoking is tough, if you have done it for years, but the personality change is from improved self esteem. What the flip does the Hill Jacks from the University of Misery know?
  • janet 2011/09/15 17:21:40
    It could.
  • AN 2011/09/15 17:11:15
    Maybe not during quitting, it gets pretty tough, they get nervous & flip out on people for no apparent reason. But after quitting I think they become happier & even proud of themselves for being able to ditch smoking.

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