Social smoking: will an occasional cigarette harm your health? – Health


It's holiday season, many of us are celebrating a little more than usual.

This means more food, more alcohol, more nights of maturation and, for some, it could involve smoking a strange cigarette.

But how bad is smoking from time to time?

The idea that low-level smoking does not hurt you is a dangerous myth, said Professor David Currow of the NSW Cancer Institute.

Social smokers often do not think of themselves as smokers, he said, so they do not believe that health warnings about smoking apply to them.

But the conclusion is that each cigarette exposes your body to harmful chemicals.

"There is no safe level of smoking, and negative health effects accumulate throughout your life," he said.

What type of smoker are you?

What type of smoker are you?

Low-level or occasional smoking groups include:

The social smoker: Tends to smoke only in social settings, such as in the pub or when with friends.

The compulsive smoker: He smokes much more at certain times than others, like on the weekend.

The low-level smoker : Only smokes a few cigarettes a day or just smokes occasionally.

Source: ICanQuit website of the NSW Cancer Institute

Simon Chapman, professor emeritus of the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, said: "Smoking a small number of cigarettes". cigarettes, for example, less than four a day or once a week raise your risk [of health problems].

"Not to the extent [same] as if smoking 30 cigarettes a day, but compared to someone who does not smoke, anyone who smokes four cigarettes a day or even less is cheating himself, does not take any additional risk" .

Immediate Effects

As soon as you take a drink of a cigarette, there are changes in your body, which include:

Less tobacco, less cancer?

Even if you smoke only once in a while, you are still exposed to long-term risks.

In addition to lung cancer, there are at least 13 other cancers linked to smoking.

Smoking damages cell DNA, including key genes that protect against cancer.

It is true that the more you smoke, the more damage or mutations in your DNA you will have. create.

"But it's not your cumulative total of 40,000 mutations that guarantees cancer, it's just that you have the right combination of mutations," said Professor Curnow.

"Then, you can smoke less than the person next door, but you may hit the genes that mean you are going to get lung cancer or any other type of cancer."

One to four cigarettes a day almost triple the risk of dying from lung cancer.

And smoking socially is particularly bad for your heart, as bad as smoking regularly, it seems.

Studies have shown that light, intermittent smokers have almost the same risk of heart disease as people who smoke on a daily basis, Professor Currow said.

The very thin blood vessels that are vital to keeping your heart healthy are. Damage to the same tiny blood vessels also contributes to erectile dysfunction in men.

"We know that these blood vessels are vulnerable to damage when exposed to an incredibly low number of cigarettes," he said. 19659002] An occasional cigarette is connected to a number of other diseases as well: cataracts, reduced fertility, an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy [where the pregnancy develops outside the uterus] and weak bones, a review of several studies showed.

Slippery slope

Direct effects on health are only part of the problem with social smoking however.

Because smoking is highly addictive, smoking "a little" can easily turn into smoking more.

Non-smokers who smoke more than three packs a month are equally likely to continue smoking after 14 years as daily smokers, said Professor Currow.

Point out that many social smokers consume a lot of smoke when they smoke, instead of smoking than just having a cigarette or two.

"At present we have no way of knowing how easily a person will become addicted to nicotine until after the event, when they have become addicted," he said.

He believes that the only safe strategy is not to smoke at all.

Professor Chapman agrees.

"Ninety percent of smokers regret ever having started, the number that says:" Yes, I love smoking. I know the risks and I do not want to stop ", is probably less than 1 in 10," he said.

Although smoking rates have declined, it is not clear if the rate of social smokers in Australia is changing.

The National Household Survey on Drug Strategy (2016) showed that of Australians older than 14 years, 12.2 percent smoked daily, 1 percent smoked weekly and another 1 percent smoked less than weekly.

The trend of shisha coffee

A form of social smoking that is a relatively recent trend is when people gather to smoke tobacco in shishas or water pipes, also known as water pipes.

The practice, which emerged in some Arab countries, took off in Australia several years ago, said Professor Currow.

Now there are shisha cafes and hookah salons where people smoke together, sometimes sharing the same shisha, he said.

Sometimes the smoke is spiced by pbading it through a fruit such as a mango or pineapple.

"But smoking one hour socially with a shisha is equivalent to 50 or 100 cigarettes.You can get a very important exposure in a short space of time."

Kicking habit

The good news is that Soon as we quit smoking, your body begins to recover.

Within 12 hours of your last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in your blood are much lower and after one year, the risk of coronary heart disease will be half of what you once were as a smoker.

If you quit before age 35, your life expectancy will be very similar to that of someone who has never smoked.

If you are a social smoker who wants to quit smoking, it may be useful to ask your friends to discourage you from smoking in social situations.

Reducing alcohol consumption can also help some social smokers who tend to smoke more when they drink.

And you could think about the people around you who have to breathe in the smoke you exhale in social situations. Some research has suggested that this is a stronger motivator for social smokers to give up than education about the impacts on one's health.

"Social smokers say, 'I'm not addicted.' If that's really the case, get away from that," said Professor Currow.

If you find that you have trouble quitting, help is available.

You can find resources to help you quit smoking on the Australian government's Quitnow website.

Additional research by Claire Pain.

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