Item from the Smart Marriages Archive, reproduced in the Divorce Statistics Collection

December 28, 1998

Study: Smokers are prone to divorce

Shared beliefs and values may bode well for a long, healthy marriage. But if your partner lights up, you had better watch out for the fire.
New research found a 53% increased risk of divorce for smokers, regardless of gender, age, race, education or income. William J. Doherty,
the study's co-author, emphasizes that smoking does not actually cause divorce. What it does mean, he speculates, is that "those who smoke
have characteristics and life experiences that make them more divorce-prone than nonsmokers." The new findings reinforce 1997's
long-term study that flatly reports smoking is a predictor for divorce.

Smokers, marriage don't always click
Karen Peterson, USA TODAY

If you are dating a smoker, you might want to think twice before marrying him or her.

New research shows that adults who smoke are 53% more likely to have been divorced than those who don't smoke. The study reinforces
prestigious 1997 research that says flatly that smoking is a predictor for divorce.

The new findings do not suggest that smoking actually causes divorce, says William J. Doherty, the study's co-author and a family therapist
at the University of Minnesota. He speculates that "those who smoke have characteristics and life experiences that make them more
divorce-prone than nonsmokers."

Doherty's team worked with nationally representative data from the General Social Survey, administered annually by the National Opinion
Research Center at the University of Chicago. In the analysis of 3,123 adults 18 and over, almost half (49%) of the smokers had been
divorced, while 32% of the nonsmokers had. There was therefore a 53% increased risk of divorce for smokers. Results held true regardless
of gender, age, race, education or income.

Most of today's adult smokers started puffing in adolescence, Doherty says. He cites already accepted research showing younger smokers
enter adulthood with more psychological and family problems than non-smokers, and that adult smokers have higher levels of psychological
problems, including depression and anxiety.

The 1997 study by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, part of a long-term project tracking more than 33,000
young adults from high school onward, states in part: "Smoking rates were far above average among those men and women who would
later divorce; thus, smoking is a predictor of divorce."

Most research up until now has focused on health risks associated with smoking, says study co-author Eric Doherty, who worked on the
project with his father. "The social and psychological aspects have not been covered in the literature." Taken together, the two reports "are
saying something really new and different."



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