Smoking Doesn’t Actually Relieve Stress, Study Finds



Brand X Pictures
Brand X Pictures
Smoking is known as a stress reliever and beyond the initial addiction, smokers turn to cigarettes for a touch of relief from life’s daily trials, or so they think.

A recent study from Oxford University and King’s College London found that 1 in 5 smokers said that the main reason that they smoked was to relieve stress, according to The Daily Mail.

But contrary to this common belief, smoking doesn’t actually relieve stress, quitting does. British researchers measured anxiety levels in more than 500 smokers before and after they gave up. Two months into the study 68 of 491 participants were still abstaining.

Those that tried to quit and failed were markedly more stressed. 

"The belief that smoking is stress-relieving is pervasive but almost certainly wrong," researchers said on The Daily Mail"The reverse is true: smoking probably causes anxiety and smokers deserve to know this and understand how their own experience may be misleading."

It may actually be the withdrawal from the nicotine that causes the stress that a cigarette seems to relieve. According to NIH: anxiety, tension, restlessness, frustration, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping are all common symptoms of withdrawal. 

Withdrawal from addiction causes stress and once that phase has passed the feeling of relief by beating the addiction will be greater than any relief from having smoked a cigarette. Doing something that you know is bad for your health creates guilt and it is that guilt that causes stress. Stress is also produced as a result of feeling trapped by your own addiction. Will is a powerful thing.

Again, The Daily Mail:

This increase in stress levels was particularly high in those with depression and other psychiatric problems and the researchers said doctors should be aware of this.


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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.









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