Those smoking might actually have a lower intelligence quotent than non-smokers, says new research.
A study led by Mark Weiser, psychiatry professor at the Tel Aviv University, has determined that young men who smoke are likely to have lower IQs than their non-smoking peers.
Tracking 18- to 21-year-old men enlisted in the Israeli Army in the largest ever study of its kind, Weiser has been able to demonstrate an important connection between the number of cigarettes young males smoke and their IQ.
The researchers took data from more than 20,000 men before, during and after their time in the military. All of them were deemed to be in good health since pre-screening measures for suitability in the army had already been taken.
They found that around 28 percent of their sample smoked one or more cigarettes a day, three percent considered themselves ex-smokers, and 68 percent said they never smoked.
The average IQ for a non-smoker was about 101, while the smokers’ average was more than seven IQ points lower at about 94, the study determined.
The IQs of young men who smoked more than a pack a day were lower still, at about 90. An IQ score in a healthy population of such young men, with no mental disorders, falls within the range of 84 to 116.
“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,” says Weiser, according to a statement from the university.
“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.”
These findings were published in Addiction.