Survey: 3 in 5 smokers, drinkers wouldn’t give up habit to live 10 years longer

WINDSOR, Conn. — Maybe all these studies aren’t so useful after all. A new survey shows that despite all the research pointing to the ill effects of drinking, smoking, and eating unhealthy food, most Americans still wouldn’t change their detrimental lifestyle choices even if it guaranteed they’d live 10 years longer.

Of the 2,009 American adults surveyed, nearly 3 in 5 smokers (58%) say they wouldn’t cut the habit for the extra decade, while a similar number of drinkers (57%) simply can’t give up their favorite alcoholic beverage. Likewise, adding 10 years to one’s lifespan wasn’t enough for the 56% of respondents who would rather continue to enjoy eating fatty foods.

The survey, commissioned by insurance company Vantis Life, found that when it came to smoking, women were less willing to quit for the longer lifespan. Researchers found 63% of female smokers wouldn’t give up cigarettes, versus 54% of men.

Meanwhile, 59% of respondents admit they fully understand how harmful excessive drinking can be for the body, yet they do it anyway. And even though 86% of respondents are aware that not exercising regularly can have negative health consequences, about half of that group (44%) actually does so.

“We conducted this survey to find out how aware Americans are of their habits and how much they affect things like their health and life expectancy,” says Alison Robb, a Senior Marketing Specialist with Vantis Life, in a statement. “We were surprised how unwilling people were to give up things they know are not healthy.”

So what’s the reasons for so many people willing to continue with their bad habits? About a third (32%) say they just weren’t satisfied with the health warnings. Researchers say that might mean while people know the consequences of their lifestyle choices, they may be less aware of how those choices could shorten their longevity.

Or it could be that most people just don’t want to live their lives worrying about death. Just 28% of participants admit they’d want to know when they’ll die, with millennials more open to learning their expiration date (40%) than baby boomers (22%).

“One of the major positives we got out of the story was how much more willing young people are to talk about death. [The] 21-24–year-olds are almost one-fifth more likely to talk about death than over 55s,” says Robb. “We hope this attitude continues into later life and young people prepare effectively for their futures, no matter what happens.”

Yet despite that attitude, the survey did show that participants who were 21-24 were least likely to give up unhealthy foods (58%) for the additional decade of life.

The survey, conducted by research company Censuswide, polled adults in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Phoenix. Interestingly, participants from Phoenix were least likely to give up their bad habits for a longer life across all categories.