Some of the cigarette smokers who don't consider themselves to be smokers are categorized under 'Non-identifying smokers (NIS)'.
Researchers at University of California (UC), San Diego report there is a surprisingly large number of people who say they use cigarettes but don't like them to be called smokers.
The phenomenon has both individual and social ramifications.
"For individuals, the behaviour puts them at many of the same health risks as identified smokers," said Wael K Al-Delaimy, professor at the UC San Diego's department of family and preventive medicine.
"There is a risk for such smokers to continue to smoke and be adversely impacted by the tobacco they smoke. They do not seek any assistance nor do they plan to quit because they falsely believe they are not smokers," explained Al-Delaimy.
Almost 22 percent of these smokers consumed tobacco on a daily basis.
In their analysis, Al-Delaimy and colleagues defined NIS as people who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, reported smoking at least one day in the past 30 days or who said they smoked at least "some days".
In all cases, when asked if they considered themselves to be a smoker, the respondents replied 'No'.
The younger NIS are typically college students who smoke as a means of social facilitation and who believe they can quit at any time.
Older NIS belong to the marginalised parts of society who see little advantage in identifying themselves as smokers or providing accurate reports of their smoking behaviour, said the study that appeared in the journal Tobacco Control.