Psychologists have noticed that men often suffer from a “licensing effect” wherein they make a virtuous choice often followed by a poor choice later on. An example of this effect is avoiding alcohol the whole week followed by binge drinking on the weekend. A new study has noticed a similar effect in smokers wherein smokers decide to make a healthy choice by deciding to consume multivitamins daily. However, emboldened by the healthy effects of multivitamins on their health, they tend to smoke more thinking that multivitamins will take care of their health problems.
The study published in the journal “Addiction”, concurs that smokers take multivitamins, a healthy choice that they believe reduces the risk of cancer and allows them to smoke more. In fact, there is no evidence that multivitamins protect against cancer. The study, led by Wen-Bin Chiou, was conducted in two parts. In the first part, 74 daily smokers were given a placebo, but half were told they had taken a Vitamin C supplement. The smokers then took a one-hour unrelated survey during which they were allowed to smoke. It was seen that the smokers who thought they had taken a multivitamin pill, smoked nearly twice as much as the control group as they felt invulnerable.
In the second part of the study, 80 participants were taken from a larger community and half told they were taking a multivitamin pill. The one-hour survey also contained questions about attitudes to multivitamins. Again, it was seen that participants who believed they had taken multivitamins smoked more than the control group. Another interesting finding was that those smokers who genuinely believed in the positive effect of multivitamins on one’s health smoked more than those who were not too enthusiastic about multivitamins.
The authors of the study concluded that smokers who take dietary supplements can fool themselves into thinking they are protected against cancer and other diseases. Reminding health conscious smokers that multivitamins don't prevent cancer may help them control their smoking or even encourage them to stop.