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Smoking Makes You Ugly, Survey Reveals

This is a sample from our ‘Quit Cigarettes’ mission, which is currently live in the UK. Our goal is to increase the amount of people in the UK who quit cigarettes. Read more about our first mission here.

The numbers are in and they're not pretty: smoking makes you look old, ugly and unattractive according to millions of Brits.

Smoking has a devastating impact on people’s looks and their relationships, a survey has found.

It causes horrific physical changes according to the people who know best - the relatives, friends and partners of smokers.

They say it impacts on their lives together because watching their partners and friends age before their eyes has consequences for their relationships.

Health professionals have long warned of the health and ageing effects smoking has.

Now a poll of nearest and dearest has revealed the shocking toll it takes on them.

A huge 58 percent of those polled, equivalent to 15.3 million Brits, say they have seen someone close to them - a friend or family member - lose their looks because of their smoking habit.

They said the habit caused premature ageing, yellowing nails and teeth and bad skin and hair - and caused them sadness when seeing the premature ageing of a loved one.

A further 35 percent of people said it is common for married couples and those in a longterm relationship to hide their smoking habit from a partner because they know they would be annoyed.

Inevitably the secrecy has repercussions for a relationship when a secret smoker is found out.

Among those looking to start a new relationship, 48 percent said they would reject someone on a dating app if they smoked because they found smoking a turn-off.

And (one in four) 26 percent of people asked said they had considered ending a relationship with a smoker simply because of their habit.

The survey asked 2,003 UK adults how smoking affected looks and relationships.

Tanya, 34, an office manager from London said she had split up with her boyfriend partly because of what smoking had done to his appearance.

Illustration by Rebecca Hendin

She said: “In my most recent relationship, my partner smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day.

“If we were going for drinks or dinner, it could be as many as 30.

“When we first started seeing each other, his smoking habit didn’t bother me so much.

“However, as his habit increased I could see the physical effect cigarettes were having on him.

“Luckily, he cleaned his teeth often and always had chewing gum so the yellowing of teeth and bad breath wasn’t so noticeable.

“But I definitely noticed the fine lines and wrinkles appearing around his mouth and he seemed to constantly be coughing.

Being a regular smoker made me find him less attractive

“Aside from concern for his health, the physical effects of being a regular smoker made me find him less attractive and, while it wasn’t the reason our relationship ended, it definitely contributed towards it.

“It’s difficult to be attracted to someone with a cigarette in their hand when you can see the toll it is taking on their appearance.”

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the skin according to the NHS.

Reduced oxygen levels mean the skin does actually age more quickly and looks grey and dull.

Smoking can prematurely age the skin by between ten and 20 years and makes it three times more likely facial wrinkling will happen, particularly around the eyes and mouth, according to Smokefree, an NHS website which helps smokers quit.

It says smoking can also cause a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and hollow cheeks causing smokers to look gaunt.

Toxins introduced into the body by smoking can also cause cellulite, it is claimed.

The survey also made other startling discoveries about smoking and relationships.

A fifth of those polled said being in a relationship with a smoker affected their sex lives.

Some 18 percent of people said they or their partner had experienced an inability to perform in the bedroom because of smoking.

They said they or their partner had got out of breath, had started coughing or experienced impotency.

Men were affected the most with one in five saying they had been unable to perform because of smoking.

A huge 59 percent of Brits said smoking and its related effects are now a massive turn-off in the bedroom.

Around 28 percent - eqivalent to 13.3 million people - said when they meet someone new their opinion of them falls significantly when they see them light up for the first time.

The views expressed in the nationally representative poll - that smoking is a turn off - are reflected in the statistical research of the NHS for 2018.

Smoking among adults in England has dropped from 19.8 percent of the adult population in 2011 to around 15 percent in 2017.

It means there are approximately 6.1 million smokers in England today compared to 7.7 million in 2011 - a drop of around 1.6 million smokers in six years.

Smoking among adults in England 2011 vs. 2017 (NHS Statistics on Smoking - England , 2018)

But the likelihood of being a current smoker is highest in younger age groups.

Adults aged 25 to 34 are most likely to smoke - around 20 percent do smoke - compared to just eight percent of those aged over 65.

Adult smoking habits by age group (Adult smoking habits in the UK, 2017)

In school pupils aged 11 to 15 some 19 percent said they had tried smoking at least once in 2016, similar to the levels reported by the NHS in 2014.

More girls than boys said they were smokers with some two percent of boys and three percent of girls claiming to smoke in 2018.

The proportion of regular smokers increased with age with less than one percent of 11 and 12-year-olds smoking compared to seven percent of 15-year-olds.

Head photo by Pop&Zebra