Smokers could lose one third of their memory

New research shows that people who smoke could lose around a third of their everyday memory.

Smoking damages the body in minutes
Smoking damages the body in minutes
(Image credit: Rex Features)

New research shows that people who smoke could lose around a third of their everyday memory.

You may forget how many times you’ve lit up, as a study by Northumbria University shows that smokers lose around one third of their everyday memory compared to non-smokers.

The study also found that those who gave up the habit restored their ability to recollect information to almost the same level as non-smokers.

More than seventy 18 to 25-year olds were taken on a tour of the university’s campus and asked to recall small details, such as the music acts listed to play at the students’ union and tasks completed at various points.

Smokers performed the worst, remembering just 59 per cent of tasks.

Those who had given up smoking remembered 74 per cent, whilst those who had never lit up recalled 81 per cent of tasks.

Dr Tom Heffernan, leader of Northumbria University’s Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group, said that these results would be useful in stop-smoking campaigns.

'Given that there are up to 10million smokers in the UK and as many as 45million in the United States, it’s important to understand the effects smoking has on everyday cognitive function - of which prospective memory is an excellent example,' he says.

'We already know that giving up smoking has huge health benefits for the body, but this study also shows how stopping smoking can have knock-on benefits for cognitive functions too.'

The researchers will now explore the effects of passive smoking on memory, while Dr Heffernan and another colleague will investigate the effects of ‘third-hand smoking’—toxins left on curtains and furniture.