Social or Light Smoking is Almost as Dangerous as Regular Smoking

If you think you’re free of smoking-related health problems because you smoke only once in awhile or you have an occasional cigarette when you’re out with friends, think again. Even if you smoke intermittently, you have almost the same health risks as somebody who smokes a pack a day.

There is no safe level of smoking.

Harvard Medical School reports that nearly one-quarter of smokers are “light” smokers, smoking now and then or a limited number of cigarettes per day. The experts at Harvard also say that smoking only one to four cigarettes per day is nearly as dangerous as smoking a full pack.

Similarly, WebMD says that even intermittent smokers who average less than one cigarette per day are, over the course of a lifetime, at least 64 percent more likely to die early than people who have never smoked. The numbers climb to 87 percent for light smokers who regularly smoke one to 10 cigarettes per day.

Like regular smokers, light smokers are at heightened risk of heart disease, respiratory infections, aortic aneurysm, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and stroke. Even a single cigarette triggers a sudden surge of adrenalin that increases your heart rate and blood pressure.

Smoking is linked to at least 30 types of cancer, including lung, pancreatic or esophageal cancer.

Additionally, intermittent smokers, especially those who enjoy smoking in bars or nightclubs, are often subject to second-hand or passive smoke, which presents a long list of health risks.

Even very light smokers must realize that they are producing passive smoke that may harm others, especially children.

Graduating to Regular Smoking

Many light smokers don’t consider themselves as serious smokers, and they frequently tell their health care providers they are non-smokers. However, many eventually pick up a full-time smoking habit.

How Much do you Really Smoke?

Think about your smoking habits. Many people are surprised that they actually smoke more cigarettes than they think.

  • Count how many cigarettes you smoke in an average day. Count cigarettes you bum from a friend and those you smoke in secret.
  • Consider the times you are most likely to smoke. When you’re stressed? Driving? Drinking a cup of coffee? Talking on the phone? Count them all.

Quitting for Light Smokers

Smoking is extremely addictive and even light smokers may have a hard time quitting. Experts aren’t sure if quit-smoking medications such as buproprion or varenicline are effective for light or sporadic smokers, and neither are completely without side effects. However, nicotine gum may help light smokers cut down or quit.

If you’re having a difficult time quitting, you’re not alone. You may need to seek help from an addiction treatment center or a stop smoking support group. Don’t give up if you’ve tried before and failed. Quitting often requires several attempts.

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