MedCity News eNewsletter

Smoking is smoking, no matter how little: “Very light” smoking has become a dangerous trend

Young women have identified themselves as “light” smokers. This has led them to not even identify themselves as smokers or that they don’t have a problem, leading to greater health risks down the road.

Between the push to make healthier e-cigarettes and the scary advertising about the health risks associated with smoking regular cigarettes, we’re making progress in the efforts to ditch the dangerous habit of smoking.

But a new study has noted a rise in the proportion of very light smoking. The report defines very light smoking as no more than five cigarettes per day.

Carole Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin analyzed data from 9,800 women aged 18 to 25 who participated in a federal government survey in 2011.

Smoking has generally declined in the United States for the past 20 years, according to the study. But even light smoking is tied to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and increases in the risk of cancer, the report noted.

Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told CBS News, “Even light smoking can triple the lifetime risk of heart disease. More efforts need to be directed at this cohort of emerging young women who smoke lightly.”

Director of the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York also told the network that those who carry the habit of light smoking may not even consider themselves as smokers at all or that they can easily quit the habit. She added that this type of smoker even tends to increase the amount they smoke over time to become a heavy smoker.

This type of behavior leads to greater health problems later down the road, so it is absolutely crucial try anything possible in order to bring all of the problems associated with “light” smoking to the user’s attention.

Instead of asking if someone smokes, maybe medical professionals should start asking how often they use tobacco, since some smokers may not even identify themselves as such because of their small habit.

The habit may be small, but the consequences are much, much greater. It’s time to get rid of smoking completely, and the best way to do that is identifying even the smallest of problems.