For a man or women under 30, smoking does not prevent typical age-related weight gain, according to a study of nearly 4,000 white and black young adults ages 18 to 30. The tobacco industry has named cigarettes "thins" and "slims" in an attempt to appeal to weight-conscious young women who think that smoking will help them control their weight, but this study indicates that smoking has a negligible effect on body weight.
The researchers classified participants into six groups based on self-reported smoking status (i.e., those who never smoked, regular smokers, and those who quit during the study). Participants self-reported smoking status and body weight were reassessed at two-, five-, and seven-year follow-ups.
The researchers found minimal evidence of any weight control benefit from smoking (meaning that smoking does not lead to weight loss or an attenuation of weight gain). Those who smoked, or who began smoking, did not lose weight.
While smoking was associated with an attenuation of weight gain among black adults, no such effect occurred among white men or women, the latter being the group most likely to smoke "to control body weight."
The finding of little immediate or even long-term (seven years) weight-control benefit from smoking among young adults goes against the beliefs of both smokers and non-smokers that smoking helps to control or to limit weight gain. Any weight control benefit derived from smoking is likely to take many years, according to the authors.
The researchers did find that individuals who quit smoking experienced greater weight gain than individuals who continued smoking or never smoked at all. Within the population that quit smoking, post-cessation weight gain was greater for blacks (13.1 kilograms) than for whites (9.4 kilograms).
But since weight gain was common in young adults regardless of smoking status (during the study, 54% gained at least 5 kilograms and 29% gained at least 10 kilograms), weight gain attributable to smoking cessation was approximately only 4.1 to 6.6 kilograms. Thus, while smoking is not a successful mechanism for weight control, smoking cessation does have serious long-term consequences for body weight. (Though 20 cigarettes a day puts the same stress on the heart as being 8 stone overweight!)
"These findings have important public health implications, since the perception that smoking controls body weight is widespread, particularly among youth," said Dr. Klesges, lead author of the study. "Every day, many young Americans begin smoking believing that it will help them lose weight, but these results demonstrate that smoking does not help control weight, and only after decades of smoking do we see a difference in body weights of smokers and non-smokers."
"If young people throughout the nation can learn that smoking has no effect on body weight, it is likely that a significant reduction among smoking in young people would be observed.".
Tobacco was introduced to Europe from the New World at the end of the fifteenth century. Smoking spread rapidly and was long regarded as having medicinal value. It was not until the 20th century, however, that smoking became a mass habit and not until after the Second World War that the dangers of smoking were firmly established.
Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United Kingdom. Cigarette smoking alone is directly responsible for at least one-third of all cancer deaths annually in the United Kingdom, and contributes to the development of low birth weight babies and cardiovascular disease.
I do feel better, not a lot but enough that I'm glad that I quit. A lot of my "mysterious" ailments are gone, ones that I used to experience on a daily basis. I know for a fact that my stomach pains are gone due to the decrease of stomach acid since I quit. People with any form of stomach irritation should not smoke.