Monday 23 November 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


102 CliftonStreet, London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press releaseEmbargo:
00:01 Monday 23rd November 1998
18:00 US-EST Sunday 22nd
Action on Smoking
and Health

Smoking and weight myth turned upside-down

Smoking does not cause weight loss. Giving up smoking causes weight gain.

These are the important findings of a University of Memphis study of 4,000 American youths reported in the December edition of the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology [1].  The study examined the weight of smokers, non-smokers and people who quit smoking during the seven years of the study.  The researchers found minimal evidence of lower weight when comparing between smokers and non-smokers, and those who smoked or began to smoke during the study did not lose weight.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH commented: “this is a really important finding – it seems weight gain is part of smoking withdrawal, but smoking itself does not cause weight loss.  This shows that starting to smoke is like committing to gain weight sometime in the future.  Unless you plan to smoke forever, starting to smoke means an eventual weight gain.”

“Many teenagers are following fashion icons like Kate Moss and mistakenly thinking that starting to smoke will help them control their weight.  But this study seems to turn the smoking and weight argument upside down.”

“People have assumed that weight control was one of the upsides to smoking.  Now it has to be classified as downside.”

The research does show that giving up smoking caused a weight gain of several kilos,but ASH warned those already smoking not to lose heart.  “There are plenty of good reasons to quit smoking such as being healthy, breaking addiction and having more money in the pocket. To quit smoking and fend off weight gain, it’s really worth doing it properly – think about what to eat and plan to get plenty of exercise.” said Bates.

[1] by Robert Klesges et al. Universtity of Memphis. see:



Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Amanda Sandford, Research Manager (020) 7739 5902 or 0181 257 3501 (hm)
David Peikin, Amer. Psych. Assn. 001 202 336 5702 or
Robert Klesges, author of study 001 901 765 6405

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