As someone that fell into smoking during student life and then had to battle with myself to quit (this is my 5th-year smoke-free!), I’m a bit of one of those annoying ex-smokers when it comes to smoking and kicking the habit.
It’s just, I never realised how much more energy I had, more time, more money and more life I had until I stopped. I didn’t even realise how much it stank until I stopped! I was never really a heavy smoker but when drinking, that changed.
I quit a few times but was always pulled back in when out with friends who smoked. Or hanging out with my housemates who all smoked. It’s a tricky thing which is why I thought it’s important to share this article about why you should avoid social smoking. I hope you find it helpful!
How likely are you to have a cigarette when you’re at a work’s party or on a night out catching up with friends or family, despite not being a regular smoker? Here, Nicotinell, a provider of specialist advice about how to stop drinking and smoking, explains why you should avoid being a social smoker:
Identifying your smoker type
Before we look into the dangers of social smoking, let’s first understand why 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.
The dangers of smoking socially
First and foremost, it’s important to point out to both low-level and occasional smokers that there is no safe level when it comes to smoking. In fact, the health dangers are apparent whether someone has one cigarette occasionally, or one an hour on average.
This point was highlighted by iCanQuit, an online resource set up by the Cancer Institute NSW, after they conducted research about the effects on health caused by 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.
Additional links between social smokers and the risks that their lifestyle has on their health were suggested in a nationally representative study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. The research, which involved more than 39,000 people, 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 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.
Assistant professor of clinical nursing at The Ohio State University Kate Gawlik, who was the lead author of the study, stated 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”.
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.”
According to iCanQuit, social smoking has detrimental effects on the health of both men and women too. They reported that males who were occasional smokers were 60 percent 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.
In its concluding statement, the online resource noted: “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.”