Positive sides of smoking
- Nicotine improves human brain performance
- Is the bad reputation of smoking undeserved?
- Professor: About time the positive sides of tobacco is emphasised
By Niels Ipsen, environmental biologist & Klaus Kjellerup, researcher
According to public health officials, tobacco has no benefits at all: "A harmful and unnecessary product," says the WHO (World Health Organization), which has lobbied national governments to combat tobacco use since 1975.
The Danish anti-smoking lobby wants a total ban on tobacco: "We can not see what tobacco contributes," said the Cancer Society. "A smoke-free society should not be an unreasonable policy objective," they say in the Danish health directorate.
Since the 1960s authorities worldwide have focused exclusively on the health hazards of tobacco, and thus given it a very negative image. Their many anti-smoking campaigns may have made the world forget that tobacco use also has positive aspects. But as we know, any issue always has at least two sides, and now the positive effects of tobacco have resurfaced in the scientific literature:
After 40 years of scientific research on the effects of nicotine, researchers now say that they have sound scientific proof that smoking and nicotine have a significant positive effect on human brain performance.
The brain works better when it gets nicotine – almost like an optimized computer. Nicotine is a "work-drug" that enables its consumers to focus better and think faster. The brain also becomes more enduring, especially in smokers: Nicotine experiments show that smokers in prolonged working situations are able to maintain concentration for many hours longer than non-smokers.
This seems like a paradox considering the smoking bans imposed on workplaces in many countries – but it is nonetheless the picture emerging from hundreds of scientific studies of smoking and nicotine. It seems very unlikely that companies would be able to stop smoking in workplaces with many smokers without experiencing a decline in labor productivity.
Generally nicotine boosts the brain to work 10–30% more efficiently in a number of areas. This is especially true for smoking – but also true when using smokeless nicotine. But at the same time, when smokers and nicotine users abstain, they experience a perhaps equally great decline in the effect. This is called the "withdrawal effect" – a nicotine craving, especially for smokers.
Thus the difference between smoking and smoking abstinence is very pronounced for a smoker – a difference of perhaps as much as 50%. And, according to the scientists, this answers the question: Why do people smoke? The answer is simple: Because smoking boosts their brain power.
- Nicotine boosts attention, precision, motor skills, speed and memory
- Why are many scientists, athletes and artists smokers?
- Nicotine makes the brain faster and more precise
- Are smokers better drivers and pilots?
- Smoking gives the brain more stamina
- Is the smoke-free society an economic growth-free society?