Information for professionals

Quit education Client groups Order resources
Skip to main content

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.

You probably remember the Quitline ad about how every cigarette is doing you damage? Research shows that even low levels of smoking can cause the full range of smoking health risks.

Health risks of social smoking: 

  • Smoking just 1–4 cigarettes a day almost triples your risk of dying from heart disease or lung cancer.
  • Light and intermittent smokers have nearly the same risk of cardiovascular disease as people who smoke daily.
  • Occasional male smokers are 60% more likely to die earlier than non-smoking males.
  • Low-level female smokers typically lose 4–6 years of their life compared to non-smoking females.
  • Non-daily (social) smokers who still smoke over 3 packs a month are just as likely to still be smoking after 14 years as daily smokers.

Besides, each cigarette raises your blood pressure and your heart rate, spikes the mood, makes your blood stickier and restricts the oxygen you can breathe. Even one cigarette is no friend to your body. Not to mention the smell! 

If you smoke occasionally, or just 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.

Tips to 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 is 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. 
  • Call Quitline or request a Quitline callback: Quitline understand the particular difficulty occasional or social smokers have of stopping smoking. 
Better lifestyle
My health
Social smoking