Social smoking on the rise

| December 19, 2016

In Australia, it’s the season of the social smoker: those smokers who often don’t see themselves as smokers, who rarely buy cigarettes but who, at this time of year especially, light up ‘like Christmas trees’, according to a story by Rania Spooner for Queensland Country Life.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011-12 National health survey suggested that about 1.8 percent of Australians – about 328,000 people or 10 percent of smokers – smoked less often than daily.

And researchers believe that the ranks of social smokers are growing.

“They may not have that strong addiction to nicotine, which means they can just go week to week without having one, but they’ve probably got themselves into a strong habit where the social cues are triggering them to have one,” said Dr. Sarah White, the director of Quit Victoria.

Spooner reported that despite a recent study finding that long-term, low-level smoking made social smokers nine times more likely than non-smokers to die from lung cancer, the results of a study carried out in the state of Victoria and released on Wednesday had shown that many smokers were ‘still living in denial’.

One in three, believed the dangers of smoking had been exaggerated, according to a phone survey of about 4,500 Victorians conducted by the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer.

In fact, the Annual Victorian Smoking and Health survey had shown that the proportion of smokers who believed public health warnings about cigarettes were overblown had increased slightly from 29 per cent in 2011.

More than one in 10 smokers did not believe, or did not know, that smoking caused illnesses.

‘The findings come days after a large study was published in Jama Internal Medicine, which backed evidence that even very occasional smoking can be a killer,’ Spooner reported.

The study was said to have surveyed more than 290,000 ‘older Americans’ in 2004–2005, 10 years after first surveying a larger pool, and to have found that those who smoked one to 10 cigarettes a day, even if they had quit by 50, still had a 44 percent higher chance than did non-smokers of ‘dying early’.

The researchers, from the US National Cancer Institute, were said to have undertaken the study in response to a rise in the proportion of US smokers who smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day, a rise that appears set to continue.

White said smoking remained a leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia, and killed more than 15,000 people a year.

“There’s a really prevalent myth out there, and actually a lot of health professionals believe the same thing, that it’s okay to cut down; and one to two cigarettes is not dangerous,” she said. “That’s simply quite wrong.”

Category: Breaking News

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