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Love, sex and cigarettes


Change Incorporated uncovers how smoking cigarettes can stop you finding love and making love.

  • Almost half of the UK (46%) (1) are less likely to date a smoker than a non-smoker and an experiment on Tinder suggests non-smokers are 1/3 more likely to get a ‘right swipe’

  • Researchers found that non-smoking young men were having sex almost twice as often as smokers (4) – while a leading Urologist warns that smoking cigarettes not only adversely affects male sexual performance but it can also cause the penis to shrink

  • New research (5) shows that couples who attempted to stop smoking together had a six-fold chance of success compared to people who attempted it alone and almost half of UK smokers would quit if they knew it would please a new partner

  • Around 7.4 million people in the UK still smoke cigarettes (2) and Quit Cigarettes is the first mission from Change Incorporated, an editorially-independent, purpose-driven online channel from VICE that will work with global businesses to tackle some of society’s biggest issues. This first mission is funded by Philip Morris International.

London, May 2nd, 2019

Bad breath, sallow skin and stained teeth are well known unattractive side effects of smoking, but Change Incorporated’s quit cigarettes mission has highlighted even more reasons why the UK’s 7.4 million smokers are less likely to find love, and may even experience issues making love if they continue to smoke.


46% (1) of the UK say they are less likely to date a smoker than a non-smoker, making it more of a turn off than a 10 year age gap (37%) or completely different political views (29%).

To look into whether smoking was a deal breaker for daters, Change Incorporated carried out an experiment on Tinder, by posting identical profiles with just one change - one was a smoker and one was not. The results were 103 matches to non-smoking’s 157.

Bristol University went to more extensive lengths in 20175 by asking 500 people to rate the more attractive twin from 23 pairs where one smoked and the other didn’t. Two thirds of men and women preferred the non-smoking twin and people also thought members of their own sex more attractive if they didn’t smoke.


Smoking cigarettes is not just a problem for those looking for love, but can also create problems with the ability to actually HAVE sex

“I see erectile dysfunction a great deal,” says Harley Street Urologist Marc Laniado, whose first question to men experiencing the problem is whether or not they smoke.

“To have a firm erection, you need sufficient blood flow. Smokers have a higher incidence of artherosclerosis in all blood vessels, including those in the penis, which can reduce blood flow. The chemicals in smoke may also have an effect on firmness; nicotine causes blood vessels to become narrow. This can be temporary or - eventually - permanent.”

Smoking cigarettes not only adversely affects male sexual performance it also can cause the penis to shrink over time Marc Laniado, adds: “Often they will say ‘my erection is not so good, I don’t wake up with an erection in the morning as much as I used to or my penis isn’t quite so hard when I’m having sexual relations. But also sometimes people say that their penis is getting shorter as they get older, as smoking stops the blood flowing through the penis, which stops the spontaneous and nightly erections that are needed to stretch the penis and keep it at a good length. So in summary smoking can make your penis appear shorter or in fact become shorter”

His observations are also backed up by the findings of a 1998 Boston University School of Medicine study (6), which found men who smoked were likely to have a shorter erect penis than men who didn’t smoke.

And youth is no barrier to the problem. Researchers at the University of Arizona reported (4) that young men - in their 20s and 30s - who smoked were having sex less than six times a month. The non smoking men were having sex almost twice as often. They suggested that lower desire and concerns about performance might impact overall satisfaction.

And there’s nothing sexist about smoking and sex, “Women’s arousal is - if you think about it - also affected by blood flow to the area,” says Laniado.


Almost half (43%) (1) of UK smokers say that they would quit if they knew it would please a new partner and many studies show that the best way to quit is to reach out for support.

Rather than going ‘cold turkey’ alone you are up to four times (2) more likely to quit successfully with the help of your local stop smoking service.

Research released this month by Imperial College London (3) also shows that couples who attempted to stop smoking together had a six-fold chance of success compared to patients who attempted it alone

"Quitting smoking can be a lonely endeavour. People feel left out when they skip the smoke breaks at work or avoid social occasions. On top of that, there are nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Partners can distract each other from the cravings by going for a walk or to the cinema and encouraging replacement activities like eating healthy food or meditating when alone. Active support works best, rather than nagging," said Magda Lampridou, Researcher from Imperial College London.

Films and articles at explore the science and sociological aspects of smoking to encourage debate and provide support for people wanting to quit the habit. The new channel includes articles such as Smoking Makes You Ugly (link) and Quit Smoking To Improve Your Sex Life (link).

Sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight, comments, “If bad breath and being less likely to get a date is not enough to make people stop smoking then surely a shrinking penis or reduced sexual arousal should at least make you ask yourself, why are we still smoking?

Being open to talk about these issues is important, as no-one should be suffering in silence. And all the evidence shows you are more likely to successfully quit cigarettes if you get support.”


Change Incorporated Press Office
Russell Minahan or Liv Thomas  
Tel: +44 (0) 7557 438576

About Change Incorporated

Change Incorporated is a new editorially independent channel from global media brand VICE that aims to create measurable change on issues important to VICE’s global audience. The purpose-driven channel will have editorial control and independence and will take funding from a small number of businesses to undertake different ‘missions’. The funding is primarily to support the best journalism and most compelling content on the Internet.

About Quit Cigarettes mission

Quit Cigarettes mission will initially launch in the UK and will have one single measure of success; the number of people that seriously attempt to stop smoking cigarettes, which will be audited by an independent third party. The funder for the mission is Philip Morris International and all activity will be consistent with the UK Government’s Tobacco Control Plan. Quit Cigarettes is an initiative created by Change Incorporated (VICE) and funded by Philip Morris International. VICE maintains editorial control, so Philip Morris International may not share the views expressed.

About VICE Media

VICE is a global media brand. Launched in 1994, VICE now operates in nearly 40 territories worldwide across mobile, digital, and linear platforms. VICE operates an expanding international network of digital channels; a television and feature film production studio; an Emmy-winning international television network, VICELAND; an Emmy-winning weekly news magazine show on HBO; an Emmy-winning nightly news series on HBO; Virtue, a global, full-service creative agency with 26 offices around the world; a magazine; and a record label.

VICE's award-winning programming has been recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Peabody Awards, Sundance Film Festival, PEN Center, Cannes Lions, Frontline Club, Knight Foundation, American Society of Magazine Editors, LA Press Club, James Beard awards and Webby Awards, among others.


1 Exclusive survey conducted by Savanta, 2,375 UK residents aged 18+, March 2019
2 NHS Digital (
3 Imperial College London, April 2019