02 April 2010

Smoking, IQ, Russia's Demographic Decline


Researchers have recently determined that young smokers tend to have lower IQs than their non-smoking peers. In Russia, teen smoking is considered "an epidemic," even though the IQ of Russians is not much lower than that of western Europeans or white North Americans.
Russia has one of the world's highest smoking rates. The government says 44 million Russians smoke. That's a third of the population, including more than 60 percent of all males.

It's having a major effect on the country's health. Up to 400,000 Russians die each year from tobacco-related causes. But as health campaigns in the West encourage growing numbers of smokers to give up the habit, Russia is becoming increasingly important for international tobacco firms, and the number of Russia's newest smokers -- women and teenagers -- is skyrocketing.

...packs of Western cigarettes in Russia can cost as little as $0.50, compared to around $10 in some European countries.

"It's a lot easier for a child to buy a packet of cigarettes than a chocolate bar," she says.

Knorre says tobacco companies are now aggressively targeting women and teenagers. Around 15 percent of women smoke, twice more than in the early 1990s, and the number is steadily growing.

"You see mostly women's cigarettes behind store counters," she says. "They're thin, carry deceiving labels saying they're less harmful, and come in different flavors and bright packages." _Source

The billboard shown above is seen on Moscow streets. It reveals a lot about the perverse psychology of Russia under the thumb of Putin.
The infamous billboards appeared in Moscow in March. They depict a sleeping baby with a cigarette butt put down against her back. The slogan on the billboard says: “Smoking in child’s presence is a much bigger torture for him.” _MikeHitchen
Smoking -- particularly heavy smoking -- is a form of slow suicide. Ironically, it is also a form of Russian roulette. You never know whether your heart or your lungs will give out first. Whether cancer will settle in the mouth, throat, or lungs, before spreading to the brain and bones. Whether your blood vessels will close off, depriving organs and muscles of vital blood supply. You never really know.

It is not just a question of low IQ leading to smoking. It is also a question of will to live -- and what you have to live for. In Russia, there is little reason to sacrifice current pleasure or comfort for future gain. The future looks less and less likely to be a pleasant place, for those ethnic Russians who manage to survive. Why not smoke, drink, let things go?

Citizens of the US are allowing despotism to creep up on them incrementally. But Russians have never had freedom, never enjoyed an independent life, free from despotic governments. Americans are letting the wealths of freedom slip away after deciding that freedom is too much trouble to fight for. What does that suggest about national IQ?


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Blogger kurt9 said...

The biggest health consequence of smoking is not cancer, but COPD, which is a pregressive, terminal lung disease. COPD typically results in about 10 years of increasing invalidity (morbidity) before culminating in death. It is very expensive to treat and care for someone with COPD. Since the Russian health care system lacks the financial and medical resources to care for COPD victims, it is likely the life expectancy of such people will be decreased by 10 years due to COPD and its complications alone. This life span reduction is in addition to all of the other bad health habits that Russians have.

I know all about this because my mother had COPD for the last 20 years of her life (prior to her passing away early last year) as a result of 40 years of heavy smoking.

If you smoke, QUIT. I cannot begin to tell you how bad smoking is.

The fact that Russians are becoming heavy smokers in large numbers guarantees a horrific health crisis in Russia in another 20 years.

Friday, 02 April, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

"It is not just a question of low IQ leading to smoking."

Are you sure this is the direction of causality in play here?

Friday, 02 April, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

GW1: There is no "the direction of causality". Causality is usually circular when human beings are involved. ;-)

Sorry to hear what your mother had to go through, Kurt.

Pulmonary Intensive Care was once a second home to me. End stage COPD patients would come in near death, we would stabilise them and build them up, and release them. They would always be back within a month or two or three for more lifesaving and pulmonary rehab.

Giving anesthesia to someone with end stage COPD is a "heart in the throat experience" for the person sitting at the anesthesia machine.

Friday, 02 April, 2010  
Blogger Robert said...

Dear Al Fin,
I am shocked to see you write nonsense.

Please read this and apologize.


"The Scientific Scandal of Antismoking."

Friday, 02 April, 2010  
Blogger kurt9 said...

Al fin,

Then you are most certainly aware of the medically intensive nature, in terms of time and finances, of caring for people with COPD. This will certainly be an additional disaster for Russia if a significant percentage of their population takes up smoking.

Friday, 02 April, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Kurt, smoking rates in Russia seem to be going up. With such high penetration in early teen years, and a growing participation of women, the future of Russian health looks bleak.

TeachParis: If you have a blog, you may want to expand on the theme you bring up. Drop a link here in comments, if you would, when you decide to come out of the closet.

Unless you are an epidemiologist or statistician, it might be best to keep linking to other person's sites, at least on that topic. ;-)

Most of what people think they know, just ain't so. And it is easy to be "right" for completely imbecilic reasons.

That is the human condition.

Saturday, 03 April, 2010  
Blogger kurt9 said...

Al fin,

I think teacher paris is being facetious.

In any case, you are fully aware of how expensive and time consuming it is to treat COPD patients. You are probably also aware of the huge expense on the part of the states in treating COPD and cancer patients that drove them to sue the tobacco companies during the 90's/ Of course, the states squandered the money they got from the settlement (this is the nature of bureaucracy) and, thus, ran out of money when the recession hit in the early 90's.

Russia's health care system is headed for a disaster in another 15-20 years, if not before.

Sunday, 04 April, 2010  
Blogger kurt9 said...

Pardon my ranting and raving about COPD. Watching my mother succumb to it makes it a rather emotional issue for me.

Sunday, 04 April, 2010  
Blogger Robert said...

A new article by me.


Sunday, 04 April, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Kurt: Once you see COPD in end-stage, you never forget it. For it to happen to someone close to you makes it all the more tragic.

teacher.paris: Thanks for the link to your article.

We were discussing the health and economic impacts of high rates of smoking on a society. The relationship between COPD and smoking is quite strong.

Russia is getting older and more depopulated by the year. To add the extra burden of higher rates of COPD and other smoking-related diseases to that dying society is not a good way to make Russia stronger.

The issue of second hand smoke is indeed quite debatable.

The issue of lung cancer is quite technical due to the low incidence rates of lung cancer. Reputable epidemiologists and statisticians no longer support the claim that smoking is unrelated to lung cancer rates.

Everyone is a skeptic about some things.

Sunday, 04 April, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bigger threat to Russia is that its women have one of the highest abortion rates in the world.


Tuesday, 06 April, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Russia has no one biggest threat. It is a dying country that refuses to be reborn. The Russian people have been beaten down so long that they have no concept of anything better.

If Russian women refuse to bear children, it is for a reason. You could say that that reason is Russia's bigger threat. And so on and so on.

Wednesday, 07 April, 2010  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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