‘Light smoking’ doesn’t lessen the harms

Light smoking increases the risk of lung cancer

‘Light smoking’ doesn’t lessen the harms

Smoking four to six cigarettes per day is often regarded as ‘light smoking’ or ‘social smoking’, but the health harms are anything but light. Individuals who smoke an average of five cigarettes each day have around double the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease of people who never smoked. And there is more bad news. Light smoking increases the risk of lung cancer.

It has also been associated with other cancers, cataracts, fertility problems in both men and women, slower injury recovery, increased frailty in older men and women, and a poorer health-related quality of life. It may also contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema), stroke, breast cancer and a host of other conditions.

Light smokers often don’t identify as being smokers. So when they are asked by their doctor if they smoke, they answer ‘no’, which means they don’t benefit from the interventions and quit smoking support available from their doctor.

Some people become light smokers in an effort to quit smoking. They cut back their cigarettes, but then get stuck in the pattern of smoking a handful per day.

Even light smokers experience addiction to nicotine. Some have cravings to smoke every day while others can go days or weeks without a cigarette and then get the urge. Some light smokers will be able to quit smoking easily, but for others, the process is just as hard as for a heavy smoker.

No matter how much you smoke, the best way to avoid the associated health harms is to quit smoking.

Once you stop smoking:

  • you will reduce your chances of cancer and heart disease
  • your fitness will improve
  • you will increase your chances of living longer and spending quality time with your family and friends
  • you won’t be exposing your family to dangerous second-hand smoke.

For options to quit smoking, visit the Quit your way page.

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