Social smoking as dangerous as daily habit

By YOU
08 May 2017

A cheeky cigarette after a few drinks won’t do any harm, right?

Wrong, actually, as new research has found social smokers suffer almost the same health problems - such as high blood pressure and cholesterol - as seen in regular smokers.

In a U.S. study of almost 40,000 participants, including both habitual and social puffers, scientists detected that around 54 per cent of people in both categories had high cholesterol, while three-quarters had high blood pressure levels, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Read more: E-cigarettes ‘much safer than smoking tobacco’

Of the social smokers, most were male or aged under 40.

These findings, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, adds to previous claims that occasionally lighting up is just as detrimental to health as doing it often. The results also shed new light on this group, who often report they don’t smoke in other studies on cigarettes.

“Not smoking at all is the best way to go. Even smoking in a social situation is detrimental to your cardiovascular health,” lead author Kate Gawlik, assistant professor of clinical nursing at Ohio State University, said. “One in 10 people in this study said they sometimes smoke, and many of them are young and already on the path to heart disease.”

Read more: Occasional smoking greatly increases risk of early death

Senior author Dr Bernadette Melnyk added that the findings were important for both clinical practice and population health research.

“This has been a fairly neglected part of the population. We know that regular smoking is an addiction, but providers don’t usually ask about social smoking. The typical question is, ‘Do you smoke or use tobacco?’ And social smokers will usually say ‘No.’”

There was a setback in the study, however, as for how often social smokers had a cigarette wasn’t made clear.

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