The dangers of being a “social smoker”

You wouldn’t call yourself a “smoker.” You don’t need a cigarette when you get up in the morning. You don’t take a smoke break at work. You don’t get nicotine cravings. But you do tend to light up at parties or other gatherings when you’re out at night or on the weekend. And you’re not alone. Nearly 25% of smokers are occasional or social smokers. But the truth is that you’re still putting your health at risk.


So how bad is a cigarette once in a while? Here’s the reality:

While occasional smoking may be less harmful than a pack-a-day habit, it can still do plenty of damage. Social smoking raises your risks of heart disease and cancer. In fact, a person who regularly smokes just one cigarette a day is nine times more likely to die of lung cancer than a nonsmoker. It’s also connected to health risks you might not have considered, including:

  • Increased risk for respiratory infections.
  • Greater risk for strokes.
  • Fertility issues (affecting both women and men).
  • A slower recovery from injuries.
  • Greater risk of cataracts.


We know smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. But the truth is that giving up cigarettes can be just as challenging for social smokers as it is for daily smokers. You can do it using the same types of methods, such as nicotine replacement gum or medications. The most difficult part may be getting past the mental hurdle of thinking that social smoking isn’t that harmful. And now that you know the damage it can do, you can face quitting head-on. So trade part-time smoking for a healthier full-time, smoke-free life.



Saying goodbye to cigarettes

Join a Healthy Lifestyles online group. You’ll get support to kick your smoking habit out of the party.



Harvard School of Public Health –