Background: Happiness has become established as an important psychological dimension and not merely the obverse of depression and anxiety. Ex-smokers report that they are happier than when they were smoking but this could reflect biased recall. To date, no studies have examined happiness as a function of smoking status in ex-smokers of varying length of abstinence compared with current and never smokers.
Methods: A cross-sectional household study of a nationally representative sample of adults examined the association between smoking status (never smoker, smoker, ex-smoker<1 year, ex-smoker ≥ 1 year) and two standard measures of happiness adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics (N=6923).
Results: After adjusting for age, gender and social grade, ex-smokers of ≥ 1 year reported higher levels of happiness than smokers (p<0.001) and similar levels to never smokers. Ex-smokers of <1 year had similar levels to smokers. Smoking to feel less depressed (p<0.001) or anxious (p<0.044) were the only smoking characteristics associated with lower happiness among current smokers.
Conclusions: Ex-smokers who have stopped for a year or more are happier than current smokers and similar to never smokers. Whilst these results are cross-sectional and have to be interpreted with caution, this adds to the evidence that smoking may decrease happiness and stopping may increase it.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.