Smoking and Gambling

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
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Smoking and Gambling

November  2002
Second Wind
Lomita, California

     Dear Friends:

     A recent study published in the scientific journal, Addiction, reports that cigarette smoking is associated with an increased severity of gambling, most particularly in compulsive gamblers who are participating in a gambling treatment program. Smokers agreed that they had little control over their gambling. They were more likely than non-smokers to be taking psychiatric medications and they experienced more psychiatric symptoms, especially anxiety, compared with non-smokers. My take on this is that smoking and gambling are both addictive and compulsive behaviors. Both can ruin the bliss of freedom to be productive, rather than self destructive.

     All smoking is a gamble, isn't it? One in five smokers develops chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the risks of heart attack, stroke, and seven cancers, as well as other diseases such as macular degeneration, osteoporosis, and peripheral vascular diseases which are much higher in smokers than in non-smokers. Virtually all smokers die at a younger age than non-smokers, often more than 10 years, depending upon the age of starting smoking and the intensity of smoking throughout their lifetime.

     I can accept that all of life is a gamble and sometimes taking chance adds jest to life. But there is no joy in the bondage of tobacco addiction and the threat of loss of quality of length of life.

I'll be in touch next month.

Your friend,

       Thomas L. Petty, MD

Last update:
24 December 2002