Do you think some people smoke as a slow way to commit suicide

I know a smoker. He is highly educated (education is negatively correlated with smoking, just FWIW) to the point where on paper, he should have a very low chance of smoking.

But I know he is depressed and believe his smoking is just a way for him to shave 10 years off his life expectancy, so he can die at 72 instead of 82.

Do other people smoke as a way to intentionally reduce their life expectancy? I wonder if this is a common thing.

I’m not a smoker and am not sure why most people smoke (I’ve heard its relaxing, and its just a habit you get into and can’t get out of, plus some do for weight loss). But I wonder what % of people who smoke do so as a way to reduce their time on earth.

Is trying to die early a common cause of wanting to smoke? Has it been studied as a potential motivator?

“So basically, if you love danger, you’ll love smoking?”

Kurt Vonnegut used to joke that smoking unfiltered Pall Malls was a “classy way to commit suicide,” but I think he was speaking in jest insofar as smoking is a terrible way to kill yourself as millions of COPD, emphysema, and lung cancer sufferers can tell you, or would if they weren’t dead or desperately trying to suck in enough breath. The reality is that tobacco companies have manipulated their product to be extremely addictive (they literally freebase the tobacco to amplify the speed of absorption of nicotine) and have made smoking a cultural touchstone of “coolness” that persists today despite the severe restrictions on adverising in the United States and Europe.

Long term smokers are invested and often convinced that the damage is done (even though quitting smoking has demonstable positive effects on health and longevity) so they don’t try or make ineffectual attempts to quit.

For more on the tobacco industry and how they have manipulated both tobacco and public opinion to profit despite the known hazard of their product, see historian Robert Proctor’s extensively researched and cited Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition.


I think that would be the absolute dumbest way to commit suicide. If you wanted to off yourself, why would you do something that will kill you, but maybe not for 30-40-50-60 years…or maybe never kill you?

Even though it is self destructive behavior smokers tend to deny this. I think it is just a pleasure fix.

Smoking is cheaper than retirement.

Does the OP’s friend also have schizophrenia and/or Tourette’s syndrome? Lots of people with those disorders smoke, often heavily, because it reduces the severity of their symptoms. And yes, research is being done into this.

If not, this person has probably picked up the habit and doesn’t want to quit badly enough to do it.

Here’s a blast from the past, regarding educated smokers.

This person makes a good amount of money, they just hate life.

No. I know that people with disorders like schizophrenia smoke because the nicotine helps control their symptoms. But no.

I’ve seen nurses smoke. They of all people seemingly should know what it does. So I do wonder if, not an outright desire to commit suicide, it at least shows some “IDGAF” about life.

I sometimes wonder how humans would be different if they lived as long as Tolkien elves. We get pretty wrapped up about shaving 10 years or so off our lives, but we only live to like 80-ish. 10 years becomes kind of piddlin when you’re looking at immortality. Seems like they’d be smoking like dragons.

At any rate, if you consider Mr. Death to be at hand nearly all the time no matter who you are, I think you’d be more hedonistic, sure.

Not really, but there’s a lot of space between “suicidal” and “not suicidal”. It’s not like one or the other.

I’ve done self-destructive things that were not really intended to kill me, but like… I don’t actually care if I die. I would be completely fine with it. I care about hurting someone else and about property damage and about losing my cognitive function, but not dying. So like “you could die!” isn’t much of a deterrent for me.

And when everything seems lost anyway, sometimes something that makes you feel a little bit better right now is worth it. Because if you die, who gives a shit? And if you suffer long-term consequences… well, you’re pretty sure you’ll kill yourself by more conventional means way before that ever happens anyway and if you don’t, it’s always an option. It’s not like you HAVE to live with lung cancer because you don’t particularly have any attachment to living at all.

I don’t smoke, btw. It’s never held much attraction for me. I do see the attraction to hard drugs, though, and have had many days when it’s probably good that I don’t have a source. Because any temporary escape would be better than this and it’s kind of a compromise between just enduring it no matter how agonizing it is and killing yourself, which is so messy and disruptive and makes your sister cry forever. Or channeling your distress into starving yourself or numbing it by alcohol or eating or spending money… when every other second of every other moment is somewhere between desolate greyness and soul-deep anguish, but french fries or cigarettes or heroin or sex or running til you drop or driving too fast give you a moment of calm or pleasure or triumph or anything other than just wishing there were a way to fade away without anyone having to pick up the pieces, of course you’re going to take it. Doesn’t matter if you know better and know it’s a bad idea and not really going to fix anything. It’s not fixable anyway, so sometimes the best you can hope for is something to help you through this moment.

Some wit observed that if the effects of smoking that occur internally manifested themselves on the outside of the body, smokers would quit in seconds. Knowing some chainsmokers, though, I don’t know if even THAT would be persuasive enough.

As has been mentioned, smoking feels good and is addictive. It takes an awful lot of self-control to battle through the physical and psychological effects of withdrawal and quit; no surprise that someone you have described as depressed or with other issues cannot muster up the iron will to do it, even though he knows smoking is unhealthy.

There have to be some Dopers (no pun intended) who know from experience that kicking tobacco is often harder than giving up any other drug, and not just because you can still buy cigarettes, etc. almost anywhere. That’s what I’ve heard all my life.

ADHD, which very often goes undiagnosed and which does not go away in adulthood, shows improvement with a dose of nicotine. Some say the improvement is greater than with the currently-approved medications… but no doctor in their right mind is going to prescribe nicotine. So… Yeah.

Well done.

This is total, utter bullshit. I wish this falsehood would fucking die.

Is it a falsehood?
I don’t know about the population of smokers in general, but I do know that walking away from the booze, walking away from the pot (yes it is addictive) was a walk in the park. I’ve yet to be able to quit smoking. I don’t really know why, but I can’t get beyond day 2. Patches, lozenges, nicotine gum, none of it worked for me. No vaping is as, if not more so, disgusting, plus the smell gives me a headache.

Why arent smokers crowding the rehab beds? Or AA chairs? Because the addiction doesnt affect daily life and functioning in a way that incentivizes quitting the way addictions to things like hard drugs, alcohol, gambling, food and sex do. So of course it is “harder” to quit: the consequences of the addiction (the serious ones at least) are in the future and must be conceptualized and held onto to serve as motivation to break the addiction. A more appropriate comparison would be smokers who have already developed a serious health issue as a result of their addictions attempting to quit versus the attempts of those suffering from the previously named addictions.

And just because you abused alcohol and pot doesnt mean you were ever necessarily addicted to those substances.

I have met way too many people who smoke/drink/overeat/whatever with the “Who wants to be an old person?” attitude.

Problem is, they aren’t cutting off the later years of their lives but a good chunk of their middle age. I.e., you are a 70-year old at 50. You spend a good chunk of your prime of life miserable and infirm.

E.g., one of my inlaws had exactly that attitude. Spent the last 20 years barely existing. Can’t do anything, lots of runs to the hospital for extended stays, on dialysis, etc.

Meanwhile, I’m only a couple years younger and yet I go swimming several times a week, the gym at least once a week, etc. I can run circles around smokers half my age.

Not just suicidal, but dumb suicidals.

Smoking does manifest itself to superficial observation, making you uglier - stained teeth, odiferous breath, and in wrinkly, saggy skin.