What kind of smoker are you?
People have all kinds of reasons to smoke: enjoyment, stress relief, weight control, peer pressure.
Smokers may have different reasons for lighting up, but they all have one thing in common: They should quit. Knowing why you smoke may be the first step in that direction.
Check out these profiles of the seven most common types of smokers. Which one are you?
The profile: You’re worried about your weight. (You’re not alone: Fifty percent of women smokers and 25% of men smokers feel the same way.)
Your motivation to smoke is tied up with your body image, a trait that’s especially common among women. You’re like the college-age women who, in one study, reported an increased urge to smoke after trying on a bathing suit.
Why you should quit: Although the average post-quitting weight gain is 4 to 10 pounds, ex-smokers usually return to their normal weight, and there are steps you can take to keep the pounds off.
The profile: You can’t (or won’t) kick the habit, but you’re ashamed of it, so you sneak cigarettes when your family and friends aren’t around.
You’re in good company: President Obama is the Sneaky Smoker in Chief. He’s tried to quit, but during a 2009 press conference, he admitted that he sneaks a guilty cigarette from time to time, but always away from his wife and kids (and news cameras, of course).
Why you should quit: Even the occasional cigarette has health consequences. According to a 2008 study, smoking just one or two cigarettes can compromise artery function for more than a week.
The profile: Unlike the sneaky smoker, you smoke because it’s unhealthy and against the rules. You identify with the Marlboro Man, a character who projects “individualism” and “freedom” (according to tobacco industry research), or with the “nonconformist, self-confident mind-set historically attributed to the Camel user.” You probably picked up the habit in your teens—an age when rebelliousness is linked to smoking, research shows.
Why you should quit: Smoking cigarettes is like riding a motorcycle: If you do it long enough, you’re likely to end up seriously injured or dead.
The profile: You only smoke in certain situations: at parties, at bars, at night, on the weekends. You’re the tobacco equivalent of the social drinker. You might go a bit overboard sometimes (and smoke a whole pack in a weekend, say), but you don’t consider yourself a real smoker. You’re not necessarily addicted to nicotine, although you might be addicted to smoking.
Why you should quit: Even social smoking is bad for your health, and you might get addicted to nicotine. A 2005 study that followed social-smoking college students for four years found that one-fifth of them became daily smokers.
The profile: You’re one of the 47% of smokers who say they light up to relieve stress. When you’re racing to meet a deadline at work, or after you’ve had a fight with your spouse, you reach for a pack of smokes.
Why you should quit: You might feel more relaxed after a cigarette, but smoking actually causes the physical markers of stress in your body to rise. Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are all healthier and more effective ways to relax, and they can help you during the quitting process.
The profile: You tell yourself that every cigarette you smoke will be your last. Quitting smoking—and failing—has become a habit in itself. You’ve tried everything: cold turkey, gum, the patch, prescription drugs. You’re one of the 16% of smokers who, in a 2006 Gallup poll, said they’ve tried to quit six times or more.
Why you should quit (again): Never give up! In the Gallup poll, some former smokers quit and failed eight times before they were finally cigarette free.
The profile: You’re one of the 16% in the Gallup poll who said that they’d never tried to quit. You don’t care if you’re damaging your health, and you don’t care what people think of you. You love smoking—or just simply can’t imagine life without cigarettes.
Why you should quit: Your habit is costing you thousands of dollars a year, and each cigarette you smoke reduces your life span by 11 minutes. (If that’s not enough, here are 97 more reasons.) If you already have lung cancer, it still makes sense to quit; even at this stage, you’ll live longer if you ditch cigarettes for good.
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