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There is NO Safe Level of Smoking

Many people, most especially smokers are under the impression that smoking only a few cigarettes a day poses only a negligible risk to their health. They reason that it’s not like they’re smoking a pack or two a day, so what’s the problem? A study conducted by researchers of the University College of London (UCL), Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and funded by Cancer Research UK, entitled One cigarette a day increases cardiovascular risk found that smoking just one cigarette a day carries about half the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke than smoking 20 per day. “What this tells us is that people who smoke shouldn’t just cut down – they should aim to stop smoking altogether. There is no safe level of smoking,” the study’s lead author, Professor Allan Hackshaw (UCL Cancer Institute) said.

The researchers scrutinised the results of 141 studies to estimate the relative risks of smoking one, five or twenty cigarettes each day. The surprising finding was that men who smoked only one cigarette per day had 46% of the excess risk of heart disease and 41% of the excess risk of stroke associated with smoking 20 cigarettes per day. The results, while slightly lower for women, revealed that women who smoked only one cigarette per day had 31% of the excess risk of heart disease and 34% of the excess risk of stroke associated with smoking 20 cigarettes per day.

Don’t Just Cut Down, CUT IT OUT

A recent health survey conducted in England found that one in four smokers are trying to cut down, but are not trying to stop altogether. Cardiovascular disease tops cancer as the most significant risk caused by smoking, causing about 48% of all smoking-related premature deaths. “People who smoke less can benefit from big risk reductions for disorders like lung cancer. But we would encourage those who are cutting back to go one step further and stop smoking entirely to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke – two common diseases,” said Professor Hackshaw.

To put the results into perspective, compared to non-smokers, women have a 57% and men a 48% increased risk of coronary heart disease, and women have a 31% and men a 25% higher risk of stroke. “As we have found that a large proportion of the cardiovascular risk caused by smoking comes from just one cigarette per day, we hope that our findings could be used to strengthen public health campaigns and provide increased incentive for people to stop smoking. Smokers could make use of various smoking cessation aids, with positive support from friends and their family doctor,” said Professor Hackshaw.

Simply put, even one a day is not a safe level of smoking. “The great news is that much of the risk of heart disease and stroke goes away only a few years after stopping,” concluded Professor Hackshaw.