Smoking is a sign of below average IQ, research finds.
The average IQ for young male non-smokers is 101– a score of 100 is the average for the population.
However, smokers’ IQ was a full 7 points lower at an average of 94.
Those who smoked more than a pack a day had IQs around 90.
Professor Mark Weiser, the study’s first author, said:
“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.
But 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.”
The results come from a study of over 20,000 men before and after their time in the Israeli military.
Researchers found that 28% smoked one or more cigarettes per day, while 68% never smoked — the remainder were ex-smokers.
Professor Weiser said:
“People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health.
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.”
Similarly poor nutrition, problems with narcotics and obesity are also linked to low IQ, Professor Weiser said:
“People with lower IQs are not only prone to addictions such as smoking.
These same people are more likely to have obesity, nutrition and narcotics issues.
Our study adds to the evidence of this growing body of research, and it may help parents and health professionals help at-risk young people make better choices.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Addiction (Weiser et al., 2010).