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Smoking, Vaping, and Dating

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In recent years, the medical debate around vaping has raged on. Some experts associate e-cigarettes with dire health outcomes, whereas others contend they’re a helpful means of harm reduction. But some Americans aren’t waiting for the science to settle: Vaping is on the definite rise, even eclipsing combustible cigarettes in popularity among some demographics. U.S. teenagers are more likely to vape than smoke these days, and even some older smokers are now attempting the switch after decades of attachment to tobacco.

It may be years before the medical community reaches consensus, but some smokers and vapers have a more immediate – and intimate – concern: Will vaping improve their romantic chances? After all, we’re constantly reminded smoking is a cardinal sin of the dating game. Could vaping be an improvement in that department?

To answer these questions, we surveyed over 1,000 single people, including smokers, vapers, and nonsmokers. Our results show what happens when dating and nicotine consumption collide, revealing interesting perspectives from every angle. To see how vaping might help or hurt one’s shot at finding romance, keep reading.

Tobacco Transparency?

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In the age of online attraction, potential partners’ smoking habits often arise long before they meet. If they’re honest that is – our data indicate many choose to bend the truth. Just 44 percent of male smokers said they were upfront about their habits, and female smokers were only slightly more transparent. Additionally, among male and female smokers who used an online dating platform, most didn’t include that inconvenient detail on their profiles. Their instinct to obscure their smoking is likely strategically sound: Recent research suggests smoking correlates to a substantial drop in interest on online dating platforms.

Interestingly, male vapers were more likely to be transparent about their habit than male smokers, but the reverse was true for women. Vaping culture has historically been a male-dominated one, although recent research suggests women may be embracing e-cigarettes more openly of late. Vapers of both genders, however, tended to keep mention of their habit off their dating profiles to an even greater extent than smokers. That could be partially due to dating platforms: Perhaps some haven’t yet included an option for users to indicate they vape.

How Each Habit Affects Attraction

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In the eyes of most respondents, neither smoking nor vaping did anyone any favors in the attraction department. This was particularly true for those who did not smoke or vape themselves: Among nonsmokers of both genders, more than 85 percent said smoking made someone less attractive. Smokers tended to be less judgmental of those who shared their habits, but even about a quarter male and female smokers said they’d be less attracted to someone who also smoked.

It must be said, however, that a minority found smoking and vaping to be sexy. Over 5 percent of women and 6.7 percent of men said they’d be more attracted to someone who smoked. These rates were lower concerning vaping, particularly for women: Just 2.3 percent said vaping made a potential partner more attractive. On the other hand, vaping was also less likely than smoking to prompt strong feelings on the negative end of the spectrum. Just 55.1 percent of women and 42.4 percent of men said vaping was a turnoff – far lower rates than smoking produced.

Is Switching Sexy?

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If our data suggest smoking and vaping each turn off a substantial number of partners, is making the switch even worth it? Fifty-four percent of people said the change wouldn’t improve their opinion. Nonsmokers were particularly nonplussed at the prospect of someone transitioning to a vape: Among this cohort, 61 percent of women and 54 percent of men said the change wouldn’t increase their attraction. Perhaps they’d be more enthusiastic if vaping was a proven aid to quitting nicotine altogether, but the medical debate on this point continues.

Interestingly, however, the vast majority of smokers and vapers alike said they’d find the change from smoking to vaping attractive. Perhaps these respondents can summon more empathy and admiration for those making this switch, however incremental it may seem. Vapers were particularly enthusiastic about a potential partner making the transition, perhaps because many of them made the same choice previously. Just 9 percent of female vapers and 13 percent of male vapers said switching to vaping would not increase their attraction.

Dating Despite the Habit

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Attraction is one thing, but actually dating someone is another matter altogether. Among nonsmokers, 79 percent of women and 66 percent of men said they wouldn’t date someone who smoked cigarettes. Although the majority of nonsmokers said the same thing about vapers, they were slightly more kind. In fact, vapers had better dating prospects than smokers generally: Overall, 17 percent of those who said they wouldn’t date a smoker said they would go out with someone who used a vape instead.

Smokers and vapers, conversely, were relatively tribal in their dating preferences. Smokers were more accepting of their own kind than those who opted for e-cigarettes: Nearly 1 in 5 smokers of both genders said they wouldn’t go out with a vaper. The opposition was even fiercer in the other camp. Forty-one percent of female vapers said they would not date a cigarette smoker, and 37 percent of male vapers echoed the sentiment. They may be fearful of smoking again themselves: Experts suggest those attempting to quit tobacco can struggle if their partners don’t do the same.

Particular Turnoffs

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When we asked exactly which features of smoking and vaping turned potential love interests away, we found some interesting contrasts in the complaints about each habit. Ninety-one percent of people who wouldn’t date a smoker said the smell was too repulsive, whereas just 53 percent of those who wouldn’t date a vaper had the same concerns about the odor of vape “clouds.” Embarrassment was another common concern, although it was more closely tied to vaping than smoking. Thirty-eight percent of those who wouldn’t date a vaper said they’d be embarrassed to be seen with someone who smokes an e-cigarette, whereas just 20 percent of the anti-smoker contingent felt the same.

More significantly, differences emerged related to known health risks of each habit. More than three-quarters of respondents who were opposed to dating smokers cited secondhand smoke and health problems, both for their theoretical partners and themselves. For those opposed to vaping, uncertainty was more common. Sixty-two percent of those who would not date vapers expressed worry that the long-term health effects remain unknown. Another 42 percent of this group said vaping was just as bad as smoking, a thesis some scientists dispute.

Quit for Yourself, Not Someone Else

It’s hard to deny the evidence of our findings: Whether you smoke or vape currently, your habit may disqualify you from dating many potential partners. Some of this rejection stems from judgmental attitudes, but much of it relates to real health risks. When we date someone, we know there’s at least a chance we’ll grow to care deeply about him or her. But we’re less willing to take this risk if we know a potential partner may suffer from failing health in the future. In selecting a partner, no one likes the prospect of heartache.

Putting aside dating concerns, the most important person to please by quitting is you. As a leading maker of portable oxygen systems, we know how important the freedom to breathe can be. If you or a loved one needs convenient and reliable oxygen support, the Inogen team is ready to help you today.

Methodology

Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Service and SurveyMonkey, we surveyed 1,006 people about their views on smoking, vaping, and dating. Our survey respondents break down as follows:

  • Nonsmokers: 57.0%
  • Smokers: 24.3%
  • Vapers 18.7%

The gender breakdown of our respondents for each of the categories is as follows:

  • Female
    • Nonsmoker: 61%
    • Smoker: 25%
    • Vaper: 14%
  • Male
    • Nonsmoker: 54%
    • Smoker: 23%
    • Vaper: 23%

Our respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to 76 years old, with a median age of 30 and a standard deviation of 11.35.

Age Range Percentage of Respondents
18-24 21.27%
25-34 42.84%
35-44 17.99%
45-54 10.93%
55-64 5.17%
65 and older 1.79%

We asked survey respondents whether they currently smoked, vaped, or did neither. We clarified throughout the survey that the focus was on smoking tobacco and vaping of nicotine only.

When asked about attractiveness, we gave respondents the following scale:

  • Makes them much less attractive
  • Makes them slightly less attractive
  • Does not affect attractiveness
  • Makes them slightly more attractive
  • Makes them much more attractive

For our study, we grouped “Makes them much less attractive” and “Makes them slightly less attractive together,” as well as “Makes them slightly more attractive,” and “Makes them much more attractive.”

Concerning whether someone would date a smoker or vaper, respondents were also presented with a scale:

  • Extremely unwilling
  • Very unwilling
  • Somewhat unwilling
  • Neither willing nor unwilling
  • Somewhat willing
  • Very willing
  • Extremely willing

We combined the three degrees of unwillingness and three degrees of willingness for the purpose of our project.

Respondents who selected any of the three levels of unwillingness were presented with the reasons why they would not date a smoker nor/or vaper.

To gather the reasons why people would not date smokers nor/or vapers, we ran a discovery survey on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Service asking respondents to write in the reasons they would not date someone if they were a smoker and the reasons why they wouldn’t date someone if they were a vaper. We used this to gather the options presented in this study.

Since this project is for entertainment purposes only, the results seen here are not statistically tested. In addition, all of the responses rely on self-reporting. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include but are not limited to: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.

Fair Use Statement

Please feel free to use our images and information for noncommercial purposes. If you do, we simply ask that you attribute us properly with a link back to this page. Unlike with smoking or vaping, no one will fault you for giving credit where it’s due.

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