The link between smoking and social life is not a straightforward one. Some smokers may say they were introduced to cigarettes while socializing with friends. Some might describe themselves as ‘social smokers’ who light up when in social situations. Could socializing encourage smokers to give it up?
While smoking can be a bone of contention between the smoker and their nonsmoker friends, a smoker’s social circle could also be a source of support should they decide to quit altogether – which is always the best choice, or change to a smoke-free alternative.
The results of a new survey showing attitudes to smoking and unsmoking was published today in the “Unsmoke: Clearing the Way for Change” White Paper. PMI commissioned independent researchers Povaddo to speak to 16,099 men and women across 13 countries.
In today’s society, some smokers experience social disapproval of their cigarette use. According to the survey, nearly half (47 percent) of current smokers feel uncomfortable around friends and relatives that do not smoke.
The study found that smoking often creates barriers between smokers and their nonsmoker friends. Over two-thirds (69 percent) of nonsmokers admitted they disliked visiting the homes of their smoker friends and family because of the smoke. Fifty-six percent said they would prefer to visit the home of someone who uses a smoke-free alternative than a smokers’ residence.
Moving to a smoke-free alternative also showed to improve relationships between smokers and their nonsmoker friends and family. Almost half (48 percent) of those who switched to a smoke-free alternative reported better relationships with family and friends.
Furthermore, nearly half of switchers (45 percent) said their social life had improved since they changed to smoke-free products, with more men (48 percent) admitting the shift had enhanced their time with friends and family.
Dining with friends and family is a popular social activity, but can be negatively impacted by cigarette smoke. During a meal, the best option is for no one to smoke or use a smoke-free alternative at all.
However, a greater number of nonsmokers were more accepting of someone nearby using a smoke-free alternative, with 47 percent saying they preferred someone using one of these products during a meal compared to a cigarette.
While the survey results showed that smoking could be divisive between smokers and their friends and family, the shared goal of stopping smoking can also bring people together. When smokers were asked if they expected family members to encourage them to stop smoking, 70 percent said they hoped to receive that support.
With so many people today considering friends as an extension - or even a substitute - for family, it explains why over half of smokers (54 percent) expected friends to bolster them in their unsmoke journey, particularly among younger smokers aged 21-34.
So if a smoker wants to unsmoke, they can also consider reaching out to their friends and family for support. An honest dialogue is always a good start.
To reiterate, the best thing a smoker can do is to quit cigarettes and nicotine altogether. It is the best course of action – always. However, if they don’t, they deserve to know there are better alternatives.