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The risks of being a "social smoker"

Have you heard yourself saying "But I only smoke with mates or when I have a drink"? Or "But I only smoke 1-2 cigs"? Then this article is for you.

Research shows that even low levels of smoking can cause the full range of smoking-related health risks.

Health risks of social smoking

If you smoke 30 - 60 cigarettes per month, you are twice as likely to die early than someone who has never smoked.  Even if you ‘only’ smoke 6 – 10 cigarettes per month, you have an increased risk of early death. 

Compared with someone who has never smoked, if you smoke between 15-90 cigarettes per month, you: 

  • are 80% more likely to die earlier

  • are 70% more likely to die of heart disease

  • have almost six times the risk for dying of lung cancer

  • have over three times the risk for dying of lung disease.

On average, people who smoke on some days lose about five years of their life, compared to people who never smoked.

Besides, each cigarette raises your blood pressure and your heart rate, makes your blood stickier and restricts the oxygen available to your lungs, organs and muscles. There is no safe level of smoking.

The good news is that stopping smoking reduces your risk! Read about the many benefits of stopping smoking.

Tips to beat the temptation of social smoking

If you smoke occasionally, or one or two a day, you’re more likely to be habitually addicted to smoking rather than nicotine addicted. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy to quit – we understand that the habit is powerful, and the cigarettes you smoke are likely your favourites. Here are some tips to help you beat the temptation of social smoking: 

  • Keep your hands busy: still take your breaks and chat with friends, but keep those hands busy: worry beads, stress ball, bracelet, watch, coin, water bottle.

  • Make changes: in the first weeks of quitting, avoid social gatherings, go easy on the alcohol. Drink water between alcoholic drinks – baby steps.

  • Set a quit date: quitting can feel tough no matter how many cigarettes you're smoking. The same steps apply: do the prep. Set a quit date. Use the 4Ds (delay the cig, deep breathe, drink water, do something else). Celebrate the milestones. 

  • Speak with Quitline 13 7848: Quitline counsellors understand the particular difficulty occasional or social smokers can have with stopping smoking.  There are many ways to get in touch with Quitline 13 7848. Hit the button below for more detail: 

Ways to get in touch

Please note,this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.  

If you would like to provide feedback, please contact 

Last updated March 2024 

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