The spy who quit? Lovers keep 007 passive smoking risk up

Smoking more cigarettes
PHOTO: The Straits Times

PARIS - James Bond may have quit smoking 14 years ago, but he remains at high risk from the puffing habits of his many sexual partners, researchers warned Tuesday.

Delving into the British spy's on-screen smoking history, a team of public health researchers sought to highlight the tobacco hazards faced by the fictional action hero - and the real-life people he may have inspired.

Although he gave up the habit, 007 continued putting himself at risk by cavorting with smokers, the duo wrote in the journal Tobacco Control.

This "would have meant high levels of secondhand smoke exposure for Bond, especially with post-coital smoking, even to the point where one partner used an ashtray positioned on his naked chest," they said.

The risk was slightly offset, added the researchers, "by the typically brief nature of his relationships".

15 sneaky ways smoking ruins your life

  • Lighting up is a guaranteed way to premature aging and accelerating your journey to the grave.
  • The chemicals in tobacco smoke is said to trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin, which are fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity.
  • According to doctors, inhaling tobacco smoke weakens the building blocks of the skin, resulting in saggy skin and deeper wrinkles.
  • On top of losing the elasticity of the skin that creates deep lines around the lips, smokers often get something called a "smoker's pucker".
  • When smokers suck air through a cigarette, they repeatedly use a certain set of muscles around their lips. Combined with the loss of skin elasticity, this causes the smoker's pucker.
  • Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. But did you know that the link between smoking and ARMD is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer?
  • Toxins associated with smoking can restrict blood flow to the tiny capillaries in the eyes, cutting off vital nutrients and oxygen. It can cause cataracts, glaucoma, Graves' ophthalmopathy and diabetic retinopathy, among many other serious eye conditions.
  • Age spots are blotches of darker colour on your skin that betray your age.
  • Research suggests that smokers may be more susceptible to developing these unsightly spots.
  • Smoking can accelerate the process of thinning hair.
  • Some studies have even suggested that people who smoke are more likely to go bald.
  • Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white patches called scales. It usually occurs on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet or back.
  • Recent studies have shown that not only can cigarettes worsen psoriasis symptoms, but a number of researchers believe that they may actually cause psoriasis in some patients.
  • Smoking can weaken your bones through osteoporosis - the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time.
  • This increases the risk of bone fractures.
  • More alarmingly, the bones in the spine can also be affected.
  • Osteoporosis can cause the spine to curve and result in a hunched back.
  • \Smoking causes the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart to become narrower over time, ups blood pressure and makes it easier for the blood to clot.
  • All these increases your odds of getting a heart attack.
  • The impact on the heart, lungs, blood circulation and bones all add up to a poorer performance on the track.
  • Smokers tend to suffer from a more rapid heart rate and shortness of breath even after just a mild workout.
  • In men who smoke, the reduced blood flow can also affect their manhood, leading to an increase in the likelihood of impotency.
  • In women, it can lead to difficulty conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby. Smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of miscarriage, premature birth or delivering a low-birth-weight baby.
  • As mentioned, smoking causes the skin to lose its elasticity. This not only occurs on the face, but also on the body.
  • Research has pointed out that smoking is one of the top causes of sagging breasts and flabby underarms.
  • According to WebMD, compared to nonsmokers, smokers are more likely to develop oral cancer. Smokers who are also heavy drinkers are 15 times more likely to develop oral cancer.
  • But all is not lost, doctors say quitting smoking lowers the risk of oral cancer substantially within a few years.
  • While most women experience this in their twilight years, a study has found that on average, women who smoke reach menopause 1.5 years earlier than those who don't.
  • The longer you have smoked and the more you smoke, the stronger this effect is likely to be, the study said.
  • Smoking gives your fingernails and skin of your hands a yellowish tint. It doesn't stop there. Smokers are more likely to develop bad breath, gum disease and other oral hygiene issues.
  • Still think smoking is sexy? Think how sexy you'll look with a gaping smile. Smokers are twice as likely to lose teeth than non-smokers.

Though seemingly frivolous, the study does have a serious message about the behaviour-swaying power of film characters' lifestyle choices.

"While there are some favourable downward smoking-related trends in this movie series, the persistent smoking content remains problematic from a public health perspective, especially given the popularity of this movie series," said the team.

"Health workers may need to continue to advocate for reducing smoking in movies." The team observed that Bond smoked most in the 1960s - in five out of six movies that decade - and took his last puff in 2002 in the aptly titled "Die Another Day." Smoking-related gadgets, such as a rocket-in-a-cigarette device in one film, became fewer over time, and mentions of smoking risks more frequent.

But his sex partners often smoked, most recently in the 2012 film Skyfall.

Bond's smoking history, the team said, seemed at odds with the need for physical fitness to do his job.

"But it does fit with a possible perception of low life expectancy given a cumulative total of thousands of bullets being fired at him," they wrote.

"He also has a very high intake of martinis and other alcohol and often drives very fast." Talking of drink - another lifestyle risk for premature death - a 2015 study found that current 007 star Daniel Craig was the booziest Bond in the franchise's long history.

Craig had at that time drunk an average of 20 units of alcohol per film since his debut in 2006's "Casino Royale," according to the study by British food and drink trade magazine The Grocer.

That compared with an average 12 units for Pierce Brosnan, 11 units for Sean Connery and just four or five units per film for Timothy Dalton.

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