Smoking – Not So Sexy

Glamour and sex have been used to sell cigarettes for as long as there’s been a Marlboro man – despite studies that show smoking is considered unsexy and bad for your sex life, not to mention bad for your health.

As for smoking’s sex appeal, it causes lip lines and wrinkles, bad breath and has been linked to impotence. A recent study, in fact, found that men who smoke not only have poorer sperm quality than nonsmokers but also have lower sex drives and less frequent sex.

Impotence factor

The study of couples undergoing evaluation for infertility at the Andrology Institute of America was reported at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.

On their initial visit, couples were asked to complete a questionnaire detailing their smoking habits and their marital and sexual history, including how often they had sex and their level of sexual satisfaction.

In all couples participating in the study, the women were nonsmokers. In contrast, in 158 couples, the male partners smoked at least 30 cigarettes a day and had smoked for more than seven years.

Results showed that when the partner smoked, the couple had been trying to conceive for 3.1 years compared with 2.6 years for nonsmoking couples.

Smokers also reported having sex only 5.7 times per month compared with nonsmokers who had sex 11.6 times per month. Nonsmoking couples also reported significantly greater satisfaction with their sex life, giving it an 8.7 on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being “extremely satisfactory.” In contrast, smoking couples gave their sex life a 5.2 rating on the same scale.

Unsexy cigarette ads

Some anti-smoking campaigns are banking on the facts about sex and cigarettes to get people to quit, on the theory that they might be able to appeal to smokers’ vanity if not their health-conscience.

The theme of a $22 million California ad campaign is that smoking can wreck a guy’s sex life. The ads use special effects that make cigarettes suddenly sag and dangle from a young man’s lips when a sexy woman steps into the picture to deliver the message that smoking is linked to impotence.

“Men who are not inclined to quit to save their lives, save their heart, save their lungs may quit to save their sex life,” said Kim Belshe, director of the California Department of Health Services, which coordinated the ad campaign.

Nonsmokers more physically attractive?

Still other evidence suggests that the general public really doesn’t perceive smoking to be at all attractive. Robert C. Klesges, Ph.D. and Margaret DeBon, M.S., authors of “How Women Can Finally Stop Smoking,” say that women particularly get the message from the tobacco industry that women smokers are “glamorous, intelligent, attractive and thin.”

However, they cite a study that found that people don’t find smoking to be physically attractive. The researchers hired actresses and actors and videotaped one set of interviews with them smoking and the other with them not smoking. The taped interviews were viewed by hundreds of people – men and women, smokers and nonsmokers.

The researchers asked the viewers what they liked and disliked. The viewers reacted more positively to nonsmokers than smokers. Overall, viewers rated the nonsmoking women as more physically attractive.