It isn't just heavy smokers that are setting themselves up for a future of cancer and heart disease. A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that people who averaged just one cigarette per day still had a 64 per cent chance of dying early, compared to nonsmokers.
This adds to a body of research that agrees that even light smoking is bad for you. Unfortunately, if you're a light smoker, you probably don't think you're at risk. In this 2009 study of university students, half the students who had smoked in the past 30 days answered "no" to the question asking if they were a smoker. Along the same lines, this 2006 Australian study found that most "occasional" or "social" smokers weren't interested in quitting; many believed they had already quit.
Quitting can, of course, reduce your risk. In the new study, people who quit their light smoking habit before age 50 saw their risk of earlier death go down from 64 per cent to 44 per cent. The results come from asking elderly people about their smoking habits during life; most of the participants were 60 to 80 years old and white. The researchers note that the results reflect the smoking habits of people born in the 1930s and 1940s. That said, the real effects of smoking might be even worse than what they found, since some of that era's smokers could have died too young to participate in the study. Read more at the journal article or the news writeup below: