Objective: To determine (i) whether people advertising themselves on a dating website were more likely to be smokers than members of the general population; and (ii) whether attractive advertisers (those whose ads were viewed most often) were less likely to smoke than all advertisers.
Design: Comparison of the number of advertisers who smoke with survey data on national smoking status.
Setting: "RSVP", Australia's largest web-based dating site (455,196 members on 12 October 2004).
Participants: 132,176 advertisements accessed on 10 February 2004.
Main outcome measures: Smoking status; and "votes" for advertisers' attractiveness based on how often visitors to the site accessed individual advertisements.
Results: In every age group, there were higher proportions of women smokers among the advertisers than in the general population (P < 0.05), and this was also the case for men aged 50 years and over. There was a higher proportion of non-smokers in the "Top 100" men or women advertisers aged 20-29 years (82%) compared with total RSVP advertisers in this age group (67%) (P < 0.001). 85% of the men and 78% of the women in the two "Top 100" groups were non-smokers, with only 2% of both sexes claiming to be regular smokers.
Conclusions: Compared with the general population, a higher proportion of women and older men who advertise themselves on a dating website are smokers. Smokers may be perceived as less attractive.