General Article Health check: how harmful is social smoking?

Topic Selected: Smoking and Health
This article is 9 years old. Click here to view the latest articles for this topic.

If you only light up when you’re drinking or out with friends, you probably don’t identify as a smoker or consider the health impact of the occasional fag. Social smokers don’t usually smoke every day but consume a low level of tobacco over a long period.

30 years ago, the tobacco industry studied social smokers because they wanted to promote the ‘social benefits’ of smoking. They discovered many were motivated to achieve a certain image or wanted help relaxing and de-stressing. The companies tried to tap into this market, offering smaller pack sizes and promoting cigarettes which were claimed to be safer and non-habit forming; which of course was nonsense.

Modern social smokers are typically younger, better educated and more affluent than other smokers and often smoke to gain acceptance among their social group, rather than in response to a craving for nicotine.

It’s difficult to know the percentage of smokers who currently fall into the social smoker category because this group...

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