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Medicine Science

Young Men Who Smoke Have Lower IQs 561

Posted by kdawson
from the correlation-is-not-causation dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily reports on a study that has determined that young men who smoke are likely to have lower IQs than their non-smoking peers. In the study, conducted with 20,000 Israeli Army recruits and veterans, the average IQ for a non-smoker was about 101, while the smokers' average was more than seven IQ points lower at about 94, and the IQs of young men who smoked more than a pack a day were lower still, at about 90. (These IQs all fall within the normal range.) 'In the health profession, we've generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighborhoods, or who've been given less education at good schools,' says Prof. Mark Weiser of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychiatry, whose study was reported in a recent version of the journal Addiction. 'Because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we've been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor. The government might want to rethink how it allocates its educational resources on smoking.' Prof. Weiser says that the study illuminates a general trend in epidemiological studies. 'People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health,' says Weiser. 'Schoolchildren who have been found to have a lower IQ can be considered at risk to begin the habit, and can be targeted with special education and therapy to prevent them from starting or to break the habit after it sets in.'"
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Young Men Who Smoke Have Lower IQs

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  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:22AM (#31732250)

    Smarter people know its not a good idea to start smoking.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:27AM (#31732292) Journal
    A bit offtopic but I enjoyed the overtly blue-collar ill lit picture [sciencedaily.com] that a site called Science Daily employed.

    An unshaven sun-reddened face focuses all its concentration on a cigarette protruding directly in front of his nose. His lips are pursed as if to indicate that connecting the tip of that cigarette with that flame requires all of his concentration. If his eyes weren't hidden to prevent us from identifying him (or to keep us from identifying with the subject) we might see them as cross-eyed staring down his nose intent to satiate his addiction. His shirt (which is plain white) and knuckles are smeared haphazardly with grease and his skin glistens with a workingman's sweat. Whatever iconography that hangs from his neck (Isreali dog tags? a Star of David?) can only afford a cheap black cord. The subject is off center to the right with the background as a pitch black. Nothing but a single source of light coming from the left.

    It amuses me that the site employs such a suggestive picture of smoking so that it almost screams to be a blue collar, unintelligent, near evil addiction. I understand this image adds to the effect of the article but if ever there was anti-marketing for smoking here it is at a site that claims to be objective in its name. Movies of yore portrayed the beautiful, the rich and the strong smoking. I can walk outside my office building and see well paid people smoking. It's disingenuous to portray it as only a blue collar problem no matter what statistics about IQ say. This only tells me that, on average, low IQs are more likely to succumb to well funded advertising or lack information about smoking. Not that they are any less powerful at breaking an addiction.

    I find smoking abhorrent and disgusting but I also think that it detracts from your goals to say that smoking destroys your beauty when young people can see beautiful celebrities smoking. And I also think that a "Science" site shouldn't have such goals or propaganda baked into its articles (one way or the other).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:28AM (#31732300)

    Nobody in the article was even IMPLYING one caused the other, so the tag is pretty pointless. Every time a controversial study result is posted here, people have this Pavlovian rush to post "correlation!=causation".

  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zumbs (1241138) on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:32AM (#31732354) Homepage
    I know a lot of very smart people that smoke. Yes, it is anecdotal evidence, but it illustrates one of the points of the article: It isn't just a matter of intelligence whether or not you start to smoke. Social factors such as wealth, educational background and "what my friends do" play a significant role. However, on average, it seems that smokers have a lower IQ than non-smokers. One question that the article does not pose (and can't answer due to its nature) is which is cause and which is effect. Is the reason that smokers have a lower IQ that the people that start smoking have a lower IQ, or does smoking damage your ability to reason logically?
  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:33AM (#31732364)
    At least on the low side. Those with low IQ tend to have low incomes, though high income does not correlate very well with IQ at all, meaning smart people may or may not do well in life. So since smoking correlates to low IQ and low IQ correlates to low income, it may be true that smoking correlates to low income as the author states in TFS.
  • Re:I smoke... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LtGordon (1421725) on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:35AM (#31732388)
    Cigarettes have provided you with an excuse to get away from everything and focus your mind. No offense, but I'm sure you could achieve the same mental experience without a cigarette. Grab a cup of tea instead.
  • Re:Duh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:44AM (#31732478)

    mmm.... some people smoke out of a desire for socially-acceptable self-destruction.

  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bertNO@SPAMslashdot.firenzee.com> on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:47AM (#31732504) Homepage

    You misread the parent post tho, which states that smarter people are less likely to start smoking... It's not addictive if you've never done it.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday April 05, 2010 @08:51AM (#31732546) Journal

    Hate all you want, but neither the summary nor the article implied in any way that smoking caused a lowering of IQ. In fact, the article went on to say that this correlation indicates that gov't should use this information to adjust the way anto-smoking education should be directed. This indicates that they agree with you -- low IQ's tend to smoke, not the other way around.

    So, what you are hating is your predisposition to make assumptions.

  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:01AM (#31732632) Journal
    In a country with essentially universal(except for a particular sect of religious nutjobs, who sponge off the government, breed, and study Torah, while the rest of the citizenry serves in the army, pays taxes, and generally isn't too happy about them) compulsory military service, I don't expect that that is a confounding variable of much concern....

    In countries without such, that'd be a major confound(or, perhaps more likely, give you a fairly strongly bimodal distribution. A subset of the military is extremely bright, kid with the highest SAT scores in my class went to West Point, patriotism or family history of military activity can have a strong influence as well. On the other hand, it isn't exactly news that "volunteer" recruitment tends to be easier in poor economic times, and in small, somewhat depressed, towns where there is fuck-all in the way of alternatives.)
  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:03AM (#31732652)

    In Israel the army enlists you

  • by SargentDU (1161355) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:08AM (#31732688)
    The GP may be referring to Smokey and the Bandit where the girl was running away from marriage to the Sheriff's son and has jumped into the Bandits's Pontiac Trans Am with her wedding dress on, and lights up a cigarette.
  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:09AM (#31732710) Journal

    When I was young, I always found girls that smoke to be more desirable, ie: if she smokes, she pokes. The friend that originally explained this to me (when I was 18) noticed that girls that smoked had lower self-esteem, and girls with lower self-esteem were more likely to "do things" to get your acceptance. This isn't to say that all girls that smoke will have sex with you, it just says the odds are better, and you spend less time looking and more time doing.

    So, if you are looking for a WIFE, then avoid smokers, but if you are looking for a good time, then girls that smoke are a better bet.

  • Re:Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dragonslicer (991472) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:18AM (#31732796)

    You are forgetting that some of us smoke because ::gasp:: we enjoy it.

    Yeah, in the medical field that's called "addiction".

  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by an unsound mind (1419599) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:18AM (#31732810)

    Enjoyment and addiction have little to nothing to do with each other.

    You can enjoy something and not be addicted; conversely you can be addicted to something and not enjoy it.

    Actually, most of the enjoyment from smoking is gone by the time the addiction sets in. By that time you need a smoke just to feel normal.

  • Re:Duh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:21AM (#31732842)

    You are forgetting that a lot of addicts think they enjoy their addiction because they are in the denial phase.

  • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:26AM (#31732904) Homepage

    So what you're saying is that it's impossible to enjoy something without being addicted to it? No wonder the rehab thing is so popular nowadays...people are addicted to everything!

  • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DurendalMac (736637) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:29AM (#31732930)
    Except that kissing a girl who smokes is like licking an ashtray.
  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thousandinone (918319) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:41AM (#31733052) Journal
    "Smarter people know its not a good idea to start smoking."

    Actually, I've observed exactly the opposite. While I admit freely that the entirety of my social circle does not amount to a representative sample of the population, most of the nicotine addicts I know (myself included) got started smoking in similar ways.

    For me, it started freshman year in college- attending parties and whatnot. I had a lot of friends and acquaintances who smoked, and would always offer me one, but for the longest time I turned down the offer. It was after coming out of a bad relationship, having far more to drink than was either healthy or reasonable, and then running into the other half of said bad relationship at the same party... Well, I'll spare the details, but it was rather upsetting. Anyways, me being upset and intoxicated (nice combination there!), I was offered a cigarette. This time, I took it- didn't really give a shit at the time. Found that I rather enjoyed the experience.

    Roll the clock forward a year. I'm in the habit of having a smoke now and then when I'm drinking. My line of thinking was something to the effect of: "I know this is bad for me, but I'm doing it so infrequently that the cumulative damage should be minimal if even measurable. I won't get addicted, I have too much willpower for that. And damn it, it feels good!"

    Roll the clock forward another year, and I'm a pack a day smoker. Somewhere over the summer between sophomore and junior year, My drinking and partying became frequent enough that I started getting cigarette cravings when sober. Those of you who have never been addicted to anything can understand addiction only in an objective, clinical way- the subjective experience of it, however, is something you need to experience to understand- though I highly recommend against it.

    That's the falling that most of the smokers I know have had- overconfidence. You think that you're an intelligent person, mind over matter, and all that jazz, but the reality of it is far more difficult than you can comprehend, and you don't really understand it until you're hooked. It's a song and dance that I've seen and taken part in time and time again.

    As an aside, I think that's the major failing with education regarding drugs, both legal and otherwise- I don't know of any way to explain addiction in terms that a kid can truly understand. You can preach about the negative effects all day long, but since when has the average high school/college aged kid been afraid to take a few risks? The legal repercussions? Please, like the average kid's that worried. I believe that the dangers and nature of addiction need to be stressed a LOT more, but as I said, I don't know of any way to explain it in terms that can be understood by someone who's never been addicted to anything.
  • by Krahar (1655029) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:49AM (#31733158)

    I now have moved to pipe tobacco that is all natural with no chemicals

    Yep, those chemicals will kill ya'. In other news, I've moved to all-natural plutonium to put in my morning drink.

  • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:52AM (#31733190)

    One question that the article does not pose (and can't answer due to its nature) is which is cause and which is effect. Is the reason that smokers have a lower IQ that the people that start smoking have a lower IQ, or does smoking damage your ability to reason logically?

    Actually it can answer it. The study looked at two groups: fresh recruits and vets. We can assume an age difference of at least a few years between them, and the recruits are likely to be young enough that they've only been smoking for a couple of years on average. Therefore if the smoking were causing damage, we'd expect the recruits to show a less pronounced effect than the vets. As the article mentions no difference between the two groups, we can assume no significant such difference exists, and therefore (at least) no evidence for the latter proposition, and potentially evidence against it.

  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ffreeloader (1105115) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:52AM (#31733196) Journal

    I do believe you're mistaken about this. People first start smoking for different reasons, but they continue smoking because they enjoy it. They become addicted because they enjoyed it and thus began smoking more regularly after their first few experiences with it.

    I'm a former smoker and I can guarantee you that I wasn't addicted at my first puff, or even my first few packs. I found I enjoyed it though through more experiences and I began to increase the regularity with which I smoked, yet I still wasn't addicted. I became physically addicted after I kept on smoking for a period of time. And, even after I knew I was addicted I still enjoyed smoking. It took a major paradigm shift in my life to get me to want to stop smoking, and want to break all of my addictions.

    If I had not enjoyed smoking, I would never have become addicted. I would also say that most smokers I know enjoy smoking long after they are addicted to it. Why? Most people are addicted long before they realize they have an addiction. What's more, I knew a man who smoked himself to death--he died of emphysema. Long after he knew he was addicted, and knew his emphysema would kill him, he kept on smoking because he liked to smoke, because he got pleasure from smoking. To him that pleasure was worth more than his own life.

    The same principles apply with alcoholism. You enjoy the effects of your first few drinks, and so you drink more. Pretty soon you depend on it to feel good. But, the dependence would not have occurred if enjoyment/pleasure from drinking had not preceded it. Once again, the voice of experience as I'm an alcoholic. One that hasn't had a drink in almost 20 years, but one still the same.

    What is the conclusion? You cannot deny the correlation between enjoyment and addiction as the pleasure/enjoyment derived from the addictive behavior and/or substance is what keeps the person on the same path until addiction is the result.

  • Re:I smoke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dummondwhu (225225) on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:57AM (#31733234)
    Or, (since I'd be forbidden from having a water boiler at my desk) simply take a couple of minutes to make the tea and then walk away somewhere quiet for a few minutes. There are a dazzling number of possibilities for things to do to give oneself a break to clear the mind that don't significantly increase the likelihood of chemo and radiation treatments later in life and that don't cause one to drag around a foul stench in the more immediate point in time.
  • Re:Duh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @09:58AM (#31733244)
    Smarter people know that smoking is addicting, that's one of the reasons they're less likely to start.
  • Not so much. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @10:24AM (#31733518)

    They chose to smoke; I didn't. They don't have to either. They have to live with the consequences of being a smoker.

    I am more than happy the fuckers have to go outside now. For the last 15 years, I couldn't go out and eat in a restaurant because of my asthma.

    To paraphrase the old adage, your rights end where my nose begins. I'm not happy that it took the government* to ban smoking inside restaurants, etc, but I think a restaurant owner has the same responsibility to give smokers the boot outside as they do drunken, filthy, stinky vagrants. You can be either, and more power to you, but not in here.

    *my state, at least, had a referendum and 70% voted to ban smoking. Not exactly anti-democratic.

  • Re:Duh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @10:37AM (#31733664)

    faint taste of cigarettes and alcohol on a woman's breath is quite arousing

    Speak for yourself, dude. Those are major turn-offs as far as I am concerned, especially the cigarette taste. It's the olfactory equivalent of a tramp stamp.

  • Re:Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thousandinone (918319) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:17PM (#31735098) Journal
    Oh, so you think you can explain addiction in terms that others can understand? You can convey the subjective experience that one could expect without any frame of reference for comparison?

    I suppose you believe you can explain color to someone who was blind since birth person as well?

    Don't say they are two separate things. We all know that. That doesn't change the fact that there is literally no way to communicate what addiction is like to someone who has never experienced it. I dare you to try.

    Even describing it as an overriding compulsion that undermines ones will is merely an objective description. It doesn't communicate anything about what it is like, and does nothing to alleviate the 'I'm smart, I won't get addicted even if I try it, and I can resist it if I do happen to get addicted' mindset that so many have.

    But go ahead, tell me what addiction is like and why it's so dangerous, and I'll tell you what you're missing, why you're wrong, and why people aren't going to take your explanation seriously.

    I'm waiting.
  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:27PM (#31735248)

    virtually all smokers have tried quitting and would like to quit.

    A lot of smokers I know enjoy smoking - What they don't like is the fact that it's addictive. They'd like to be able to have a smoke after a good meal, or after sex, without suffering terribly on a 4 hour plane ride or having to go outside at work every 90 minutes...

  • by tapanitarvainen (1155821) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:39PM (#31735426)

    This goes against all claims that you become addicted very quickly.

    Some studies have indicated the tendency to get addicted with nicotine is hereditary (ditto with heroin): some people (around 70% if memory serves) get addicted very easily, others rarely or not at all. Maybe you're one of the latter group.

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