Despite advertisements that portray smokers at glamorous and sexy, most people find others less attractive when they smoke, according to a study involved college students reported Saturday.
"The basic finding was that despite what advertisements would have us believe, both smokers and non-smokers tend to rate smokers less attractive," said Eddie Clark, an assistant professor of psychology at Memphis State University in Tennessee who conducted the study."The cigarette ads portray people who smoke as glamorous and sexy, but that's not what the real image of a smoker is," said Clark, who presented his finding at a meeting of The Society of Behavioral Medicine.
Clark and his colleagues asked 229 college students to watch videotapes of male and female models as smokers or non-smokers and then asked them to rate their attractiveness and other their impressions about their sexual appeal.
The non-smokers were rated more highly on an attractiveness scale, even by the viewers who smoked themselves, Clark said. While both male and female smokers were rated as less attractive, smoking appeared to diminish women's attractiveness the most, he said.
"If you compare smoking women to non-smoking women and smoking men to non-smoking men, in both cases chances are the smoker is the one that is going to be liked less. That effect is much stronger for wom-en than men," he said.
The male non-smokers rated an average of 52 on an attractiveness scale compared to 42 for smokers. Female non-smokers rated an average of 68 compared to 47 for smokers. Twelve would be the worst raing; 108 woudl be the best.
In addition, the smokers were rated higher on a scale measuring the viewers' impressions of their sexual activity. On a scale of one to seven, the average rating for the smokers on the videotape was four compared to three for non-smokers.
"What this is probably saying is they are being perceived as promiscuous. It's sexual activity of a negative sort," said Clark.
Male subjects also indicated a greater preference for engaging in intimate behavior with female non-smokers than female smokers, he said.
All the findings held true regardless of whether the viewers were smokers or not, he said.
"You would think that smokers would not have that bias, that they would not see that person as less likable or more promiscuous. But that's not true," he said.