Male smokers are more attractive partners for one-night stands, study finds

Men who engage in risky behaviours like smoking and drinking are seen as more sexually open, the Ghent University study found

Doug Bolton
Monday 09 May 2016 15:46
Roger Moore enjoys a cigarette and a martini during a 1968 photoshoot
Roger Moore enjoys a cigarette and a martini during a 1968 photoshoot

Although the harmful effects of smoking and alcohol use are now well-known, the appeal of the cigarette-smoking 'bad boy' has not waned.

According to a study conducted by Eveline Vincke from Belgium's Ghent University, men who smoke cigarettes and drink are seen by women as more attractive short-term romantic partners.

Vincke found that the attractiveness of these behaviours is linked to how risky they are - suggesting that current health campaigns, which often emphasise the dangers of drinking and smoking to young people, may actually be counter-productive.

In her study, described in a Evolutionary Psychology journal paper titled 'The Young Male Cigarette and Alcohol Syndrome', Vincke asked 239 Belgian women aged 17 to 30 to read short profiles of typical young men, which differed in describing how much they smoked and drunk alcohol.

The participants were then asked to answer a few questions about the men in the profiles, saying whether they thought they would agree or disagree with statements like "sex without love is OK."

The woman also said whether they thought the men's behaviour was dangerous or risky, and were asked how attractive they would find the men as partners in short-term flings, like one-night stands, or long-term, committed relationships.

After analysing their answers, Vincke found some interesting correlations - for short-term relationships, the men who smoked and drunk were seen as more attractive, partly because the women saw them as more sexually open.

Drinking appeared to be an especially influential factor - according to the study, occasional and frequent drinkers were seen as much more attractive short-term partners than non-drinkers.

The women's perceptions were confirmed in the second part of the study. Vincke asked 171 young men about their smoking and drinking habits, and assessed their attitudes to sex by grilling them on their number of sexual partners and views on uncommitted sex.

She found that the men who drunk more alcohol were more sexually unrestricted, and discovered that smokers were more orientated towards short-term relationships than non-smokers.

Public health campaigns often focus on the long-term harmful effects of smoking and drinking, and many mention the negative impacts they can have on a man's sex drive.

However, in the conclusion to her study, Vincke asked whether this is the right approach - after all, smokers and drinkers were seen as better partners for one-night stands partly because of their devil-may-care attitudes to the harmful effects of their behaviour.

Smoking and drinking can be especially dangerous to younger people, so groups looking to help them could do well to produce campaigns that avoid making them seem even more attractive.

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