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Study: Smokers Are Poor Decision-Makers

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By Cheryl Steinberg

Regular smokers might, on whole, “make poor decisions and experience worse outcomes with personal finances,” according to a new study.

It’s pretty common knowledge that being a smoker puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for things like health insurance and life insurance. By now, we know that smoking has adverse effects on our health, despite the prevalence of this stubborn habit.

But here’s a new twist – and perhaps yet another strike against people who smoke: smokers are poor decision-makers, especially when it comes to financial decisions.

Imagine this: someone – a friend or family member – comes to you asking you to lend them some money. All the usual questions come to mind: How well do I know So-and-so? How trustworthy are they? How likely do I think they will pay me back? Do they have a steady job?

Well, a new research study suggests that you might want to ask this seemingly unrelated question: Is So-and-so a smoker?

Study: Smokers Are Poor Decision-Makers

A research team led by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee economist Scott Adams examined two separate sets of data: one made up of 1,069 truck drivers in training, and another consisting of 2,071 participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

They then looked at basic key factors related to money management skills, such as credit scores, being denied credit, and maxing out credit cards. The researchers concluded that, when compared to non-smokers, people who smoke regularly, that is, on a daily basis, “make poor decisions and experience worse outcomes with personal finances.”

After conducting the study, the researchers reported in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization that the smoking habit “is negatively correlated with willingness to delay rewards and conscientiousness,” as well as that it has a unique “ability to predict behavior” when it comes to personal finances.

In other words, people who light up on the regular are more accustomed to giving in to instant gratification – rather than “delay[ing] rewards – as well as to do it without any real awareness. These characteristics appear to be directly correlated with how poorly someone spends and saves their money.

So, if a friend asks to borrow money. Remember to take into consideration whether they smoke or not. It could be the best predictor in whether they will pay you back or if they do, how long it might take to get that money back to you.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, or you suspect that a friend or family member is struggling, help is available. You can call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 day or night and be connected with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions and help you decide what’s next.

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