One Cigarette A Day Is Still One Too Many, Research Shows

In the new study, people who quit their light smoking habit before age 50 saw their risk of earlier death go down from 64 percent to 44 percent.

Maki Inoue-Choi, the author who headed the study, says that people who smoke, even less than a cigarette a day, are still prone to early death compared to non-smokers. Researchers have compared non-smokers to those light smokers who had only smoked a cigarette a day.

A new report offers bad news for "social", or occasional smokers: It doesn't take much smoking to put you at a significantly higher risk of death.

While most people will be convinced of the harmful effects of heavy smoking, not as many are aware that even an average of one cigarette a day may cause significant damage to our health. More specifically, those who averaged less than a cigarette a day were nine times as likely to die from lung cancer as never smokers.

Cigarette smoking is enormously hazardous to health, we all are well aware of this fact.

When looking at cause of death, the researchers found a particularly strong association with smoking and lung cancer mortality.

Fortunately, though, smoking is on the decline in America. But there is a silver lining: across the board, risk fell once smokers quit for good.

During an average follow-up of 6.4 years, nearly 16 per cent of the participants died.

Despite its limitations, however, the authors of the study conclude that their findings prove that "all smokers should be targeted for smoking cessation, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke per day". For the study, the team reviewed data for more than 160,000 individuals aged 70. Thus, research on the health effects of smoking only a few cigarettes each day is necessary, especially when there is few investigation on the subject. All participants were age 59 to age 82 at the start of the study.

This was compared to those who didn't smoke to begin with. Future studies should involve younger populations, as well as an array of different racial and ethnic groups, as low-intensity smoking historically has been more common among minorities, the magazine said.

It's never too late to quit smoking, though.

"Low intensity smokers often downplay their use of tobacco - may even identify as nonsmokers - and may rationalize their behavior as low risk", Prochaska said by email. At the same time, a growing proportion of total smokers use fewer than 10 cigarettes a day, said Neal Freedman, another NCI researcher involved in the study.

  • Sylvester Abbott