Smokers distorted perception of the risks they run

Love smokers? #SmokersMatch lets you find people who like #smoking too. Love to share views from both sides of the argument on smoking issues.
Love smokers? #SmokersMatch lets you find people who like #smoking too. Love to share views from both sides of the argument on smoking issues.

The negative consequences

The negative consequences of cigarettes are placed, by those who smoke, in a distant future that does not need to worry: an effect that makes it stop even harder.

Those who deal with smoking from a scientific point of view are repeating it for some time: there is no “safe” smoking threshold. Yet for smokers, the harmful consequences of cigarettes are a distant prospect in time. Compared to non-smokers, they tend to place the negative repercussions of their habit in a more distant future, a distorted perception that will need to be taken into account in the upcoming anti-smoking campaigns.

This is what emerges from a study by the University of Milan-Bicocca and the University of Surrey published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology.


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The researchers involved 162 volunteers, smokers and non-smokers, and asked them to estimate the time needed to develop 15 conditions in a medium smoker who, at the age of 18, began smoking 10 cigarettes a day.

“The main result concerns the phenomenon we have called” Onset time delaying effect “,” Luca Pancani, a social psychologist, explains to, who led the study together with his colleague Patrice Rusconi. “In practice, smokers, compared to non-smokers, move later on in about 5 years the onset of serious diseases, such as lung cancer, stroke or heart attack, and less serious, such as bronchitis, halitosis and premature aging of the skin.”


The habit of smoking leads to a sort of attenuated perception of rapid cigarette damage. But individual factors also come into play in the tendency to postpone the problem.

“We have discovered that your perception of risk (” How likely you think you will develop illness X in your life “) and fear (” How much you are afraid of developing the disease X “) play a fundamental role in the temporal estimation of onset of the diseases considered, “adds Pancani.

“Regardless of whether you are smoking or not, individuals who feel more fearful and feel more at risk of developing a certain disease give you an estimate of onset closer in time, although this estimate is referred to another person ( the “average smoker” called into question in the experiment). »This applies to less serious diseases: the onset of the most serious ones is generally perceived as more remote in time compared to the time when you start smoking – even from the most “Fools” and hypochondriacs.


The study involved young smokers (college students), but age may play a role in moderating the effect. “It is plausible that older people have a temporally closer perception of these pathologies – explains Rusconi – above all the more serious ones that are more likely to show up after a certain age. This, like other individual and cultural differences, could modify or even cancel the Onset time delaying effect: further research will be needed to understand the phenomenon. »


The discovery of this effect could be exploited to improve the effectiveness of tobacco prevention and cessation campaigns, for example in the eternal dispute over the effectiveness or otherwise of “shock” packages.

“In psychology – the researchers conclude – there is a vast literature on the effects of the appeal to fear in persuasive communication, that is on the use of messages and images that show the harmful effects of a certain behavior. This technique is now also used on cigarette packs that show images and phrases that should encourage smokers to stop smoking. A practical example of application could be to make smokers aware of the timing of the onset of the diseases shown on cigarette packets, in order to reduce the temporal distortion that they could unconsciously put into practice. “

Short-Term Effects
You will begin to note some changes promptly as presently as you employ cigarettes. Your fingers can yellow, your breath and hair and garments can smell like smoke, and your teeth can stain. you will conjointly develop a hacking cough and suffer several of the symptoms of allergies, love a liquid nose, fever, haptic sensation and mucosebuildup.

Maybe none of these sound unfortunate to you, however the results of smoking ar simply starting at that time. Over time, you may begin to note a scarcity of athletic ability, as your respiratory organ capability diminishes and you’ve got a tougher time staying active. you may conjointly see force per unit area will increase and throat irritability.

Long-Term Effects

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Over time, all the issues higher than become abundant worse. Let’s begin with the smallest amount awful issues.

The staining on your hands and teeth can worsen. Your fingers can begin to shake once you want a smoke. The cravings are rather more intense the longer you go while nota cigarette; obtaining close to others United Nations agency ar smoking or smell like smoke can even trigger cravings simply. What was once pleasing habit has become a necessity.

You will conjointly notice that your respiratory could became additional ragged. That’s as a result of connective tissue is increase in through throat and lungs. Your entire systema respiratorium is breaking down owing to the smoking habit. That connective tissue means that the cancer is maybe in your future. you’ll be able to forestall to coping with respiratory organ, throat and mouth cancer. You won’t ought to contend with them for terribly long tho’, as they’ll cause death.

If they don’t cause you to die, then you may a minimum of got to have sections of your throat, mouth, and lungs removed. Mechanical replacements are often used instead, however they won’t be pleasant to contend with.

Societal injury

Now those we have a tendency tore simply physical damages we thought-about, however there ar others you would like to remember of similarly. Smoking is largelyprohibited altogether public places within the us. much all restaurants, stores, looking centers, and even parks have illicit its use. the sole public places you’ll be able toextremely use cigarettes ar out on the road and in some bars and smoking lounges.

You may conjointly realize that after you begin smoking, you’re not treated identical method. folks might not wish to own their kids around you or might not wish to be around you themselves. they’re possible troubled concerning the results of secondhand smoke and don’t wish to endure any of the physical issues related to