Do Doctors Smoke?

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As medical professionals, doctors are often expected to uphold the highest standard for health. However, more often than not, doctors are just like us. A physician recently brought this to light on the SERMO network when they wrote:

Smoking is, without a doubt, harmful for our health. There might be some slight differences of its effects, depending on what a person smokes, for instance cigarettes, pipe or cigars, but those effects remain harmful for the human body in the long run. We try to advise patients against smoking; sometimes we succeed on that, many other times we can’t persuade them on quitting smoking (or, maybe, they cannot persuade themselves…). But what do doctors do? Do you currently smoke?

Fighting against the stereotype of doctors being perfect pictures of health, many physicians responded honestly with their smoking habits:

“Cigars.” – Rheumatology

“Occasional cigar, in the summer. Outside of course. I used to smoke inside my house, when I first bought it many years ago. I stupidly didn’t think about how it stunk up all of my clothes. Now I realize just how much smoking patients reek.” – Internal Medicine

“Ciggies? No. But I know a ton of docs who smoke pot regularly.” – Pediatrics

“Kentucky Dark Fired, 5 Brothers, Bird’s Eye and good ol’ Prince Albert (I let ‘im out of da can), are my favorite tobaccos.” – General Practice

“I quit smoking cigarettes my freshman year of college. I chewed tobacco in HS. Moved on to cigs. Maybe once a year or less, I have a cigar.” – Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 

“Smoke 2 premium cigars per week during warm weather. No problems. Something is going to get you sooner or later. May as well enjoy the ride!” – Urology

“Cigars. 2 or 3 big 6×60 Maduros every day for the past 35 years. Never get sick and no health problems. Some of my healthiest patients do the same. Genetics/family history is the big determinant for health. Lifestyle mandates are over-rated. Enjoy yourselves.” – Emergency Medicine 

However, many doctors still maintained that they did not smoke:

“Nope, took one puff of a boyfriend’s cigarette in the eighties and could not fathom why anyone would do that willingly.” – Pediatrics

“No. My entire med school class of about 50 graduated as non-smokers (at least not tobacco anyway).” – Family Medicine

“It’s remarkably rare for US physicians to smoke cigarettes now. This was in transition in the 1960’s and by the time I was a staff surgeon in the 1980’s, only about 10% of the medical staff smoked cigarettes. I’d suspect it’s now well below 5%. Regrettably, it’s more common in women professionals than men, and I think, in its own way, this is tragic.” – General Surgery 

“I was up to a pack and a half a day. Quit 6 years ago. Started in college. Tried to quit many times. Finally I realized that tobacco ruled my life. I worried about running out of cigarettes, where I could smoke, when I could smoke. It became the biggest subject of my thoughts. Also began to remember the Doonesbury cartoons with the syringe shaped cigarette… I share my story with patients. Two have quit, 4 have tried.” – General Surgery

Are you a doctor? Log into SERMO to join the conversation and share your experiences as a physician!

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