What are the risks of smoking socially?

Business Insights

Are you ever tempted to have a cigarette when socialising with friends or family or attending a work’s party? Nicotinell, which has a raft of expert advice on how to stop drinking and smoking, outlines why you should avoid being a social smoker in the following guide:

Are you an occasional or low-level smoker?

Ahead of understanding the dangers of social smoking, it is wise to first identify which category of smoker you fall into. There are three main groups to be aware of:

1. The binge smoker — this is someone who will smoke a lot but only at certain times of the week, such as throughout the weekend.

2. 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.

3. 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 is social smoking bad for you?

No matter if you have deemed yourself as an occasional or low-level smoker, it is important to understand that smoking has no safe level. In fact, the health dangers are apparent whether someone has one cigarette occasionally, or one an hour on average.

This statement was made by online resource iCanQuit, which has been set up by the Cancer Institute NSW, after it looked into how irregular smoking affects your health. 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.

Further links between smoking socially and detrimental effects on health have been suggested by a nationally representative study which involved in excess of 39,000 people. 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, around 75 per cent of these current and social smokers were found to have 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.

The study’s lead author, Kate Gawlik, who is also the assistant professor of clinical nursing at The Ohio State University, acknowledged:

“Doctors and nurses need to educate patients that social smoking is still a major health risk and is not a long-term healthy choice.”

“Not smoking at all is the best way to go. Even smoking in a social situation is detrimental to your cardiovascular health,”
Professor Gawlik added.

Both men and women are at risk of social smoking, iCanQuit has also found. It 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.

“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,” the online resource concluded.

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