There's a high social cost that comes with lighting up.
- The home improvement company Porch recently polled 1,009 people on their feelings about smoking.
- The company recently published the results as infographics.
- In terms of dating, 80 percent of nonsmokers find the habit a turnoff
Cigarette smoking has had a bad name since the first Surgeon General's warnings in the 1960s, and a lot of erstwhile buttheads consider themselves more health-conscious by smoking cigars instead. Tobacco smoke, though, regardless of its source, contains dangerous toxins that pose a danger to others via their exposure to secondhand smoke. Thirdhand exposure is also an issue, from contact with clothing and surfaces on which smoke lands. Though marijuana is generally believed to be safer than tobacco — and to have medicinal value — that's not entirely certain yet. Vaping with tobacco or grass also exposes the vaper to toxins.
The home improvement company Porch recently polled 1,009 people — 570 men and 490 women — on their feelings about smoking, especially cigarette smoking. The recently published the results as infographics.
The high cost of cigarette smoking
When it comes to good-old tobacco smoking, it's a habit that requires a serious commitment of cash, not to mention health. The average smoker spends $96.22 per month for the privilege of lighting up 8.9 times a day. And that's without the local cigarette taxes imposed in some areas as a disincentive for the habit.
If that seems like a lot of scratch, Porch found smokers would be willing to spend even more if certain perks were included. They'd pony up another $43.01 to smoke in their homes without getting any flack — not sure who exactly they'd be paying — and tack on another $29.24 per night to hotel bills to be able to smoke in their rooms.
Significant (cough, cough) others
Smokers, nonsmokers and reformed smokers have feelings about hooking up with smokers.
While about 80 percent of nonsmokers find the habit a turnoff, the remainder wouldn't necessarily spurn a smoker's attention.
Ex-smokers are iffy, perhaps for fear of backsliding. A little over a third of the male ex-smokers polled said maybe, while only 19.8 percent of women would be okay with dating a puffer.
At the bottom right below sits the most icky pie chart we've seen in a while, and appropriately so: that ashtray reveals that 19.2 percent of nonsmokers would rather date a convicted felon!
Porch throws in an extra amusing political tidbit here: A majority of both parties would rather go out with a member of the opposing party than someone with a nicotine habit.
The malady lingers on
Three out of four nonsmokers won't put a deposit down on a house whose smell reveals that a smoker was a previous inhabitant.
Likewise, remember how smokers would pay extra to be able to smoke in their hotel rooms? Well, nonsmokers staying at those spaces would not be too happy about that. Almost 90 percent of nonsmokers would demand a room switch if their temporary abode smelled like smoke.
But let's say you're a nonsmoker and you've moved in and have company over: about 43 percent of you don't want guests smoking anything in Chez Vous. Vaping would be sort of okay, getting high a little less, and 22.6 percent of nonsmokers would find themselves having to awkwardly request their guests put those death sticks away. Of course, famously stinky cigars are the least welcome of all.
A smoker’s home is her/his ashtray
Almost 80 percent of smokers light up in their own domiciles. Question: Is lighting a cigarette on the stove cool or ridiculous? Discuss. How about lighting a match on your teeth (not part of the survey).
Pot smokers are even more likely to smoke at home, which makes sense considering that herbally recreating in public may pose problems, and in some places arrest. Once again, cigar smokers, presumably many of whom live with people who have noses, only smoke at home about half the time.
The dangers of different types of smoking
In general, women consider all forms of smoking slightly more dangerous than men do. Beyond that, the survey's respondents have the relative dangers in about the right order according to current research. However, it's likely we have more to learn about thirdhand-cigarette smoke, marijuana, and vaping various varieties of plant matter.
Smoking around children
So playing the odds with one's own health is one thing, but what about rolling the dice with the well-being of the children who happen to be around when you smoke coffin nails? About two thirds of nonsmoking parents would speak up if you tried it, and about 40 percent of smoking parents.
Of those smoking parents, about two thirds do smoke around their own children, and a third of them in the car — obviously, that's close exposure, and when the weather is such that the windows are closed, a car is nasty place for a kid who wants to breathe.
Native Americans’ revenge?
Smoking is something that just doesn't seem to ever want to go away, and that's been true since ever the early colonists were exposed to tobacco by the locals. Each generation has its own relationship to it, finding it alternately fashionable/cool or repulsive/unhealthy — smoking is currently on the decline. But for many, the oral appeal is undeniable. If you're a smoker, we'd of course like you to be around as long as possible, and hope you'll consider quitting — there are lots of ways to making it happen once you can cough up sufficient determination.
A new study investigates if pot smokers outperformed nonsmokers in creativity.
Does marijuana boost creativity, or are creative people drawn to marijuana more than others?
A new study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition suggests the latter: The results showed that pot smokers (sober at the time) outperformed nonsmokers at one of the two tests researchers used to measure creativity, and that the difference in creativity is most likely due to personality traits rather than pot itself. The study worked like this:
Researchers used the Big 5 model of personality to measure the personality traits of 979 undergraduate students. They then asked the group to self-report their own levels of creativity, and also objectively measured creativity among the students using two separate tests.
Two kinds of creative thought processes were measured to assess participants' levels of creativity:
Divergent thinking — a thought process used to generate many possible solutions to a problem, like brainstorming. To measure divergent thinking, participants were asked to complete the Alternate Uses Test, in which they had one minute to generate as many uses for common objects as they could imagine.
Convergent thinking — a thought process that involves judging a finite number of solutions to arrive at one “correct" answer, like a multiple choice test. To measure convergent thinking, participants completed a Remote Associates Test, which “consists of three unrelated stimulus words, which are associated with a solution word." For instance, the solution word for “cottage," “Swiss," and “cake" would be “cheese."
The results showed that, while there was no significant difference between the two groups on the divergent thinking test, cannabis users outperformed non-users on the Remote Associates Test that measured convergent thinking.
What's causing stoners to excel in this dimension of creativity? It's mainly a personality trait called “openness to experience." The researchers suggested:
“While mainstream media has propagated the idea that cannabis expands the mind and enhances creativity, our results show that the link between cannabis and creativity is largely a spurious correlation driven by differences in personality (i.e., openness to experience) that are related to both cannabis use and augmented creativity."
As one of the dimensions in the Big 5 model of personality, openness to experience is characterized by active imagination (fantasy), aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety, and intellectual curiosity. People high in this trait are also more likely to be liberal, extraverted, and tolerant of diversity.
Ultimately, the results don't necessarily suggest that marijuana use has no effect on creativity.
“The answer isn't black and white," said Dr. Alice Weaver Flaherty, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School who specializes in deep brain stimulation and the brain's relationship with creativity, to Artsy. “Marijuana is a stimulant. And most stimulants, in the short term anyway, boost output of all kinds."
Flaherty argues that the question of whether marijuana use boosts creativity largely depends on the personality of the artist.
“A very anxious creative person may get some benefit from cannabis. In calming them down, it could help their creativity," Flaherty said. “But for someone who's already in the zone, and who's not too anxious to work, it might push them into a place of being too laid back."
Pot in the Creative Process
Looking beyond the scientific literature and into firsthand accounts, many artists claim marijuana plays a key role in their creative process. Alanis Morisette said smoking pot was a great way to get “clarity" and new perspectives when writing songs. Steve Jobs claimed smoking pot made him feel “relaxed and creative." And comedian George Carlin deemed weed a “value-changing" drug that could open up “doors of perception," as Alexxa Gotthardt notes in her article for Artsy.
Gotthardt's article also features an interview with artist Gina Beavers, who proposed something that seems key in this debate about drugs and creativity: Getting high can sometimes be good for the idea-generation part of the creative process, not necessarily the execution of those ideas.
“If I smoke weed and then go to bed, I'll have mild hallucinatory effects as I'm drifting off to sleep and get creative ideas...A few times, I've been mulling over how to solve some issue and weed will give me ideas, but not always ones I go with. I have to wait and look at the solutions in the light of day."
Considering the plethora of mind-altering substances in the world — from Ayahuasca to Budweiser — should we think there's anything special about marijuana when it comes to creativity? Couldn't alcohol help artists be more creative, too?
Possibly. One hypothesis is that, because drugs can lower our inhibitions, they help to silence the self-editor that tends to harshly criticize what we create, allowing us to overcome writer's block or simply the fear of creation.
Jason White, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who likes to compose songs while drinking a glass of bourbon on his front porch, summed it up like this:
“I'm drinking to stop the noise in my head so I can express what I'm feeling in my heart."
There's an interesting caveat to White's career: Although he was more of a whiskey drinker than a pot smoker, his biggest success in songwriting was influenced by marijuana and not alcohol, as Adam Wernick and Michael May wrote for PRI:
“Years ago, a friend left a marijuana bud on his coffee table. White wasn't a pot smoker, but he popped it into a corncob pipe, lit it up, and in forty minutes wrote a song called Red Ragtop. The song became a huge hit for country singer Tim McGraw."
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