- Low-intensity, long-term smokers had higher risk of death compared to non-smokers.
- Former smokers who had been consistently low-intensity smokers had progressively lower risks of death the younger they were when they quit.
Low-intensity smokers who use 10 or less cigarettes per day over their lifetime still have higher risks of death compared to individuals who never smoke.
This proves that there is no safe level of cigarette smoking.
‘All smokers should be targeted for smoking cessation, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke per day as there are no safe levels in cigarette smoking.’
Tobacco smoking is a public health issue around the world, estimated to cause 5 million deaths annually.
Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.
Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year.
The cost burden of smoking-related illness in the United States is more than $300 billion a year.
In 2014, an estimated 16.8% (40.0 million) U.S. adults used cigarettes.
Long-Term Low-Intensity Smoking
People generally believe that smoking in low-intensity can be safe. But only few
studies have been conducted on the effects of long-term, low-intensity smoking.
Researchers examined the association between long-term smoking of fewer than ten or 1 to 10 cigarettes per day and the risk of death among current and former smokers.
For the study, researchers included 290,215 older adults ranging in age from 59 to 82 years who completed the 2004-2005 questionnaire in the National Institutes of Health - AARP Diet and Health Study.
The questionnaire was used to assess lifetime smoking intensity, during the previous age periods from less than 15 years old to 70 or more.
Among the group, there were 22,337 current smokers (7.7%), 156,405 former smokers (53.9%) and 111,473 never smokers (38.4%).
Compared with individuals who never smoked, those who consistently smoked at low-intensity of 10 or less cigarettes per day had a higher risk of death from all causes including lung cancer.
Low-intensity former smokers who had quit smoking early, had progressively lower risks of death.
Limitations of the study was that it included only a small number of low-intensity smokers. Participants also recalled their smoking intensity after the fact.
"These findings provide further evidence that there is no safe level of cigarette smoking. All smokers should be targeted for smoking cessation, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke per day. Further studies are needed to examine the health risks of low-intensity cigarette smoking in combination with electronic nicotine delivery systems and other tobacco products," the study concludes.
The study conducted by Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., of the National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md., and coauthors is published online by JAMA Internal Medicine
- Burden of Tobacco Use in the U.S - (http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/data/cigarette-smoking-in-united-states.html