Why You Shouldn't Lie To Your Doctor About Smoking

While the percentage of smokers has declined in the past few decades, cigarette smoking remains very common among American adults, with smokers comprising 14 out of every 100 adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is one of the foremost causes of preventable disease and death. In fact, 1 in 5 deaths in the United States can be attributed to smoking.

With this in mind, you can imagine how some people would be hesitant to tell their doctors about their smoking habits. In a survey conducted by TermLife2Go, nearly half of the participants reported lying about their smoking habits. The primary reason for lying is embarrassment, a finding mirrored in another study by the University of Utah Health (per ScienceDaily). People do not want to be judged, lectured, discriminated against, or viewed negatively by their doctors. In addition, many people are afraid that by telling their doctor about their smoking habits, they would be wasting their doctor's time.

But this couldn't be further from the truth, according to two doctors who spoke with Insider.

You should be honest with your doctor about your smoking habits

While it feels easier to just say "no" when asked if you smoke, it really does more harm than good. Doctors need to be aware of your smoking habits when they check your vitals and investigate possible illness. Dr. Caesar Djavaherian told Insider that smoking can influence your vitals and cause certain unusual symptoms. If you are honest with your doctor, they will know whether or not your symptoms can be attributed to smoking, or if they are a sign of another health issue.

Being dishonest about smoking can not only lead your doctor in the wrong direction when it comes to diagnosing you, but it can also impede the quality of your treatment. For example, doctors often treat bronchitis more aggressively in smokers than in nonsmokers (per Everyday Health). Furthermore, Dr. Gaspere Geraci told Insider that doctors need to take account of the risks associated with smoking when they prescribe medications. Indeed, smoking interacts with many medications, and necessary dosages are often different for smokers and nonsmokers (per American Academy of Family Physicians). Your doctor can only adjust your prescriptions and dosages for smoking if you are honest about your habits.

Your doctor also needs to be aware of your smoking habits when they consider your risks for certain diseases, including cardiovascular disease, the most common killer worldwide (per the World Health Organization). Lastly, it would be a good idea to tell your doctor about your smoking habits so that they can offer advice about quitting, which is really one of the best things you can do for your health.