Maybe PSAs Should Say Smoking Isn’t Addictive

Gallup polling in recent years has found the number of ex-smokers matching the number of current smokers. That’s little consolation, though, for the people who smoke and feel unable to kick the habit. A new Gallup poll finds 76 percent of current smokers saying they wish they could stop. That roughly equals the number who say they feel addicted to cigarettes (74 percent). As the chart indicates, though, the set of smokers who feel addicted does not coincide altogether with the set of those who wish they could stop. Another part of the poll found that people who go through half a pack or less per day aren’t as likely to feel addicted as those who smoke more than a pack (60 percent vs. 93 percent). Even so, the less-than-half-a-pack smokers are likelier than their more-than-a-pack counterparts to say they would like to quit (82 percent vs. 74 percent). Having survived their bad habit so far, smokers 60 and older are less likely than those age 18 to 34 to say they would like to quit. Among people who now smoke, 58 percent get by with less than a pack a day; 31 percent smoke a pack a day, while 9 percent burn through more than a pack. The median number of cigarettes per smoker is now 10 a day, down from 20 a day as recently as 1997. This sharp reduction likely reflects the fact that restrictions on smoking in public have made it less convenient to have a cigarette. Those rules have also had the effect of giving many smokers a sense of victimhood. Thirty-nine percent of smokers said they “feel unjustly discriminated against as a smoker,” while 59 percent believe the restrictions are justified.