It may be tempting to have a cigarette when you’re having fun at a work’s party or catching up with friends or family in town — even if you’re not a regular smoker. In this guide though, Nicotinell, which provides specialist advice about how to stop drinking and smoking, underlines why social smoking should be avoided:
Determining whether you’re a low-level or occasional smoker
Before we delve fully into the risks of smoking socially, let’s first understand just what type of smoker you are. There are three main groups to be aware of:
- The binge smoker — this is someone who will smoke a lot but only at certain times of the week, such as throughout the weekend.
- The low-level smoker — this is someone who will either smoke a small number of cigarettes on a daily basis, or choose to only smoke occasionally.
- The social smoker — this is someone who will likely smoke only when in social settings, such as at a pub or when hanging out with friends.
Why smoking socially is dangerous to your health
A key point to underline when it comes to smoking is that there is no safe level, even if you see yourself as a low-level or occasional smoker. In fact, the health dangers are apparent whether someone has one cigarette occasionally, or once an hour on average.
iCanQuit, an online resource which was developed by the Cancer Institute NSW, has made this statement when they were analysing the effects on health from irregular smoking. According to the organisation, people who smoke between one and four cigarettes on a daily basis will almost triple their risk of dying from either heart disease or lung cancer. Both light and intermittent smokers were also found to be at nearly the same risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease as those who smoked every day.
There has also been links between social smokers and dangers to one’s health suggested in a nationally representative study involving more than 39,000 individuals. The research, which has been published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found that over ten per cent of the group surveyed classed themselves as social smokers and another 17 per cent said they were current smokers. Regardless of the type of smoker though, around 75 per cent of the current and social smokers were found to have had high blood pressure and an estimated 54 per cent had high cholesterol. This is after the research team had adjusted for differences in factors which included demographics and obesity.
“Doctors and nurses need to educate patients that social smoking is still a major health risk and is not a long-term healthy choice,” stated Kate Gawlik, the lead author of the study and the assistant professor of clinical nursing at The Ohio State University.
Professor Gawlik added: “Not smoking at all is the best way to go. Even smoking in a social situation is detrimental to your cardiovascular health.”
iCanQuit was also keen to point out that the risks of social smoking are evident across both genders. They reported that males who were occasional smokers were 60 per cent more likely to die earlier than non-smoking males. Meanwhile, females who were low-level smokers were found to typically lose between four and six years of their lives than non-smoking females.
As a result, the online resource acknowledged: “Even if you smoke occasionally or just on weekends, you are still a smoker – and the health dangers of low level smoking are serious and significant.”