Are you a low-level or occasional smoker?
Let’s see if you are indeed classed as a low-level or occasional smoker. There are three main groups to be aware of:
1. The binge smoker — someone who smokes a lot but only at certain times in the week, such as weekends but not week days.
2. The low-level smoker — someone who smokes a small amount of cigarettes on a daily basis or only on occasion.
3. The social smoker — someone who will likely only smoke in certain social settings, such as hanging with friends, the pub or in town.
What are the risks of smoking socially?
The main point is that there is no safe level of smoking whether you’re low level or an occasional smoker, the danger to your health is apparent whether you have the occasional cigarette or a cigarette an hour.
This statement has been underlined by online resource iCanQuit, which has been developed by the Cancer Institute NSW, when looking into the health effects of irregular smoking.
According to iCanQuit, people who are smoking between 1 and 4 cigarettes on a daily basis are almost tripling their risk of dying from heart disease or lung cancer. Light and intermittent smokers are also found to be at a similar risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease as an everyday smoker.
A nationally representative study which was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion and involved over 39,000 people has also suggested links between social smokers and health risks.
In the research found there were over ten per cent of the group that classed themselves as social smokers and 17 per cent of them said they were current smokers. Regardless of the class of smoker around 75% of current and social smokers were found to have high blood pressure and around 54% had high levels of cholesterol. This is after the researchers had adjusted for differences in factors like demographics and obesity.
Kate Gawlik, the assistant professor of clinical nursing at The Ohio State University and the study’s lead author, stressed that "doctors and nurses need to educate patients that social smoking is still a major health risk and is not a long-term healthy choice".
She also advised: "Not smoking at all is the best way to go. Even smoking in a social situation is detrimental to your cardiovascular health."
iCanQuit also reported that males who were occasional smokers were 60% more likely to die earlier than non-smoking males. Whereas, females who were low-level smokers were found to typically lose between 4 and 6 years of their lives than the non-smoking females.
iCanQuit therefore was keen to point out: "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."