If you need another reason to quit smoking, here it is. Smoking may diminish the speed and accuracy of your thinking and bring down your IQ. The association was a surprising result of a study of more than 170 men that initially set out to examine alcoholism’s long-term effect on the brain.
While it was confirmed that alcoholism is associated with thinking problems and lower IQ, analysis showed that long-term smoking has similar effects. The effects were most pronounced among those who had smoked the longest.
Smoking can make you poorer, too, and not just from buying packs of cigarettes. An article in the Chicago Sun-Times by reporter Jim Ritter found that actual costs of smoking total nearly $40 a pack. This estimation includes all the factors associated with smoking, not just merely the cost of one pack of cigarettes. Researchers have broken down these factors by cost:
- $33 a pack for the cost of early deaths, smoking-related disabilities and other factors (which includes $20.28 a pack due to reduced life expectancy)
- $5.44 a pack for the cost of the effect of secondhand smoke on significant others
- $1.44 a pack for the cost of the effect of secondhand smoke on the society as a whole
At approximately $40 for every pack, the total cost over an average smoker’s lifetime equals nearly $171,000. In past studies, researchers only calculated medical and secondhand smoke costs. However, in this study researchers tried to take into account the entire range of lifetime costs.
The total was calculated using lifetime costs acquired by men and women who smoke at age 24. Researchers also estimated that many of these people would eventually quit. By smoking one pack of cigarettes:
- A smoker’s life is cut short by two hours
- Men lose a total of 4.4 years of their life
- Women lose a total of 2.4 years of their life
A large part of the reason that smoking makes us less intelligent is because of the way it effects the brain. The drug produces changes in a person’s mood that are mainly controlled by effects in the brain. When a smoker inhales, tobacco smoke reaches the lungs and absorbs rapidly because of the huge surface area. From here the nicotine enters the blood.
Nicotine concentration in the blood rises quickly and there is a rapid uptake of nicotine into the brain, as shown by animal studies. This action actually causes a depletion of oxygen which may be why people who smoke have a lower intelligence factor. The long and short of it is – if you smoke, do the smart thing and quit.