Smoking used to be seen as cool; sexy, even. Film stars did it; supermodels did it; no wonder we used to be attracted to people who did it too. There was even a time, shortly after Britain introduced the (frankly overdue) smoking ban in 2007, that a new phenomenon arose, called ‘smirting’. This was a contraction of the words ‘smoking’ and ‘flirting’, and was used to describe the way that smokers would interact and attempt to chat each other up while they were huddled outside pubs, clubs, restaurants or offices. This also made it pretty simple to find out if the person you were attracted to was a fellow smoker – if that is the way you met, there was no need to ask, or wait until they lit up on a first date. Often, dating profiles on websites would specify if they were a smoker or non-smoker, and what they were looking for in a partner.
These days, however, smoking is seen as far, far less cool. We know more about what it does to our health (gone are the days it was advertised to us by doctors and surgeons!). It’s ridiculously expensive (a pack of twenty can go for nearly £14 in the UK). Cigarettes are sold in packets printed with lurid pictures of diseased lungs or decaying teeth. So, do people really still want to date smokers? Vaping site GoSmokeFree.co.uk wanted to find out, and surveyed 500 respondents to see whether they would rather date someone who smokes tobacco, someone who drinks alcohol, or someone who vapes.
Smokers came….bottom: only 15% of people would be up for dating them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority – 48% – said they would be happy to date someone who drinks alcohol (let’s face it, most people do drink, and many happy relationships have been launched off the back of it!), while 37% said they would rather date someone who vapes (that’s one more thing to add to your dating app profile, people!). At least this has the benefit of being less harmful than smoking, as well as not giving the vaper bad breath.
Because, let’s be realistic, there are many, many turn-offs about smoking. GoSmokeFree.co.uk also asked respondents what the biggest ones were: the over-riding majority – over 1 in 3 people (37%) said that is the smell of smokers’ breath. Let’s face it, no one wants to kiss someone who tastes like an old ashtray. Another 35% said that it’s because smokers are unhealthy – they are susceptible to a whole host of diseases, from lung cancer to strokes. 18% said that smokers’ clothes smell, and 10% cited premature ageing – because smokers’ skin doesn’t get as much oxygen and nutrients to their blood, it can look wrinkled and leathery before its time.
Another question asked was what people thought the best way was for a person to quit smoking. 1 in 4 believed that vaping was the most effective; after all, it mimics the act of smoking, as the vaper sucks on a cigarette-like device, inhales, and exhales what looks like a cloud of smoke but is actually less harmful vapour. 37% believe that nicotine replacement therapy was a good way to go about it, whether that’s in the form of patches, gum, lozenges or inhalers. Nearly a quarter (23%) believed simply going cold turkey could work, but that of course depends on how strong your self control is. And 15% thought that some kind of mindfulness programme, or hypnotherapy, would be a good way to do it.
The cost of smoking is of course a major issue; the price of a packet of cigarettes has risen and risen over the years, and can reach around £14. So Gosmokefree.co.uk also asked people, if they used to smoke and then switched to vaping, how much they saved per month on average. The answer was £108, which is pretty significant. And what have people spent that extra money on? A very sensible 63% just put it in the bank, where at least they have the chance to save up for something they really want, while a fashion-conscious 13% spent it on new clothes. 11% invested in more socialising with friends, while another 11% treated themselves to electronic goods. And 3% indulged in beauty products.