America Has More Scorn for Smokers Than Fat People

A quarter of people say they have less respect for someone who smokes

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Whether you were a rebellious teen or a Hollywood starlet, there once was a day when smoking was decidedly cool in the U.S. But since the links between a multitude of health problems and smoking have been established, governments have acted to curb the habit through sin taxes, ad restricting, and bans in the public places. As a result, tabacco has fallen out of fashion with most people. In fact, for many Americans it's not only unfashionable, it's worthy of scorn. According to a Gallup poll released today, 25 percent of Americans say they have less respect for someone if they know they smoke. Overweight people even have it better: less than an eighth of Americans feel less respect for someone because he or she is fat.

Anti-smoking sentiment is higher than it has ever been, as can be seen in the chart below. One possible explanation involves demographics: smokers are outnumbered by the overweight and obese, who constitute nearly half of the population. Another involves shifting attitudes: both smoking and obesity are bad for individual's well-being and puts strain the country's health care systems. But people today better understand genetic predispositions to obesity than previous generations and perhaps are more sympathetic to those who can't control their weight. At the same time, they hold smokers more culpable for their behavior, despite tabacco's addictiveness. While people often balk at calorie-cutting food restrictions issued by municipalities, a ban on smoking is supported by the a majority of people for the first time ever this year, according to an earlier result from Gallup.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.