Health Risks for Occasional Smokers Considerably Higher than Previously Believed

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Most people are aware of the health risks associated with smoking – increased chance of developing cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, diabetes, arthritis, a wide number of forms of cancer, to name a few. Just because occasional smokers have fewer cigarettes on average, doesn’t mean that they are safe from contracting these complications.

Reports from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) paint a more troubling picture than previously believed. The latest article highlights some staggering statistics regarding occasional smokers: “smoking only about  one  cigarette  per  day  carries  almost  half  the  risk  of  developing  coronary  heart  disease  and  stroke  when compared to smoking 20 cigarettes per day”. This seems to correlate with a previous report coming from Norway suggesting that occasional smokers had a 38% higher mortality rate compared to non-smokers.

When it comes to lung cancer, the same release mentions that “women between 35 and 49 years of age who smoke 1 – 4 cigarettes a day are five times more likely to develop lung cancer when compared with non – smokers. In men, the risk is threefold”.

The stats are particularly worrying for Ireland, where it is estimated that about one in five adult smokers does so occasionally. Furthermore, occasional smokers are more likely to smoke in social situations, especially when there is also alcohol involved.

When it comes to countermeasures, the RCPI Policy Group on Tobacco stated that the most effective way of deterring from smoking is tobacco taxation. For every 1% increase in tax, there is an approximate 0.4% reduction in smokers.

Reducing smoking-related health risks is a priority in the 21st century, especially considering that the average smoker loses about 10 quality years of life because of smoking.