Is It OK to Smoke Socially? How Much Damage Does One Cigarette Do?

So we all know that smoking is terrible for you. But what about those people who handwave the habit, and say, “Psh. I barely smoke at all. How much damage does ONE cigarette do?”

 

how much damage does one cigarette do

Imagine that the Hawaiian totem pole guy is a cigarette, okay??

 

I wanted to find out how much damage “social smoking” does…

Not because I’m a smoker myself (obviously 😉 ), but just out of “morbid” curiosity.

We all know that person…or might be that person…who smokes socially. Let’s say once a month.

Exactly how risky is the occasional cigarette? How much damage does one cigarette do?

Let me just be super up-front about this: IT”S STILL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!!

Here’s how bad “light” smoking is: a study from the British Medical Journal followed almost 6 million people over 60 years. (Now, have you ever heard of a study THAT long-term? I hadn’t!)

The results? If you smoke an equivalent of one cigarette per day, you have a 50% higher chance of heart disease and 30% higher risk of stroke.

“What the heck,” you might be thinking, especially if this applies to you, “Smoking one cigarette shouldn’t be nearly as bad as smoking a whole pack!! Shouldn’t the risk for someone who smokes a whole pack a day be 20 times higher than mine, since they smoke 20 times more?”

Nope, that’s not how it works!

But don’t feel silly for thinking that, because the researchers of the super-long study predicted the same thing: that smoking one cigarette would only be 5% of the risk of smoking 20. The math checks out, right? But it turns out that smoking one cigarette a day is, instead, almost half as risky as smoking 20 a day!

And I know, you’re remembering that at the beginning of this article I said “SOCIAL” smoking, once a month.

So if you smoke even less, THEN are you okay? To return to our original question, “How much damage does one cigarette do?”

It can’t be much worse for you than other people’s terrible diets and not exercising, right?

Yep, not exercising is actually worse than smoking, and I wrote an article on that if you want to click the link above.

But still…even one cigarette is not okay!!

Just one puff of a cigarette means you inhale 7,000 chemicals that get to work straight away destroying your DNA. The cell damage may be minor for the first cigarette, but the Surgeon General’s report confirms:

TECHNICALLY, the amount of cell damage from even one cigarette could lead to cancer later in life.

While there are no studies that back up such a drastic idea, there’s lots of evidence that smoking a cigarette even once a month is a really bad idea.

Half of all smokers today claim to be “light” smokers or social smokers, who don’t buy their own cigarettes, but light up only when they’re stressed…only at parties…

But there’s NO such thing as “safe smoking.” The current Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, says, “Low levels of smoke exposure, including exposures to secondhand tobacco smoke, lead to…inflammation of the lining of the blood vessels, which are implicated in heart attacks and stroke.”

So if you’re asking, how much damage does one cigarette do, the answer is, A LOT. It’s very unlikely that just smoking one or a few in your whole lifetime would cause cancer, but smoking on occasion is way more unhealthy than you’d think — way closer to the same riskiness as smoking a pack a day than you’d think!

I hope you DO think about it…and avoid cigarettes (including e-cigs) like the plague!

In fact, if you have to choose between them and the plague, maybe scoot a little bit closer to the person who has the plague!!

 

Links:

Cancer.org

How Stuff Works

TIME

Tonic

About the Author Melissa McAllister

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