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Study: Light smokers face heavy risk

New study shows small amounts of smoking can harm health in big way

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – The health risks of daily cigarette smoking have been well documented. But can those who consider themselves ‘light-smokers’ be at an increased risk of death as well? A new study says yes.

The study looked at data on 70, 913 adults in the U.S.

Researchers found that when compared to people who had never smoked a cigarette, those who were life-long non-daily smokers had a 72 percent increased risk of death.

Non-daily smokers reported smoking cigarettes for an average of 15 days per month – roughly 50 cigarettes per month as opposed to about 600 a month for every day smokers.

Of the one billion adult smokers worldwide, approximately 189 million consider themselves to be ‘occasional’ smokers.

Humberto Choi, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the research, but said this study lends to previous research showing that there really is no safe level of smoking.

“A lot of people who smoke occasionally actually don’t even consider themselves as smokers, and they need to know that even at that low level smoking, they have a higher chance of dying compared to people that never smoked in their lives; especially when it comes to their risk of heart disease and lung disease,” he said.

Dr. Choi hopes that the research will help motivate light smokers to make a plan to quit smoking all together. He said the best place to start is a conversation with a doctor.

“There are several different methods that can help someone to quit, and there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all,’ he said. “There are different ways that can help one person, but not another person, so, just have that conversation first and see what that best method is that would be a good fit for you.”  

Complete results of the study can be found in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.