March 22, 2019
holding a cigarette in blue light
Health News

Bad News for Occasional Smokers

by Berkeley Wellness  

Occasional smokers have a one-third higher mortality rate than never smokers, according to a Norwegian study in BMJ Open in December 2017. More than 7,000 people reported their smoking habits and were then followed for 14 years.

While consistent daily smokers were more than twice as likely to die as never smokers, occasional smokers (7 percent of the participants) were 32 percent more likely to die during this period. As the paper noted, occasional smokers are a varied and shifting category, including long-term intermittent smokers, daily smokers trying to quit, and former quitters who occasionally cheat.

A limitation of the study was the lack of data regarding changes in smoking habits during the follow-up,but the findings are in line with previous studies linking occasional or light smoking to chronic disease and premature death.

In fact, an analysis of 141 studies, published in the journal BMJ in January 2018, found that smoking just one cigarette a day increases the risk of heart disease and stroke even more than expected—by one-third to one-half as much as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

Also see Is it Unsafe for Occasional Smokers to Take Beta Carotene?