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October 26, 2009

Nondaily and Social Smoking: An Increasingly Prevalent Pattern

Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(19):1742-1744. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.315

Nondaily and social smoking (smoking primarily in social situations) are increasingly prevalent. Social smokers differ from daily smokers in their demographics, psychological profile, and degree of nicotine addiction. Current methods used to screen for tobacco dependence often miss social smokers, who tend to self-categorize as “nonsmokers.” The available, albeit limited, literature on whether social smokers exhibit nicotine dependence is controversial. While there are no data on the direct health risks associated with social smoking, data on light active smoking and passive smoking suggest that intermittent tobacco use carries health risks, particularly for cardiovascular disease. Because social smokers consume less and tend not to show signs of nicotine dependence, pharmacotherapies, which are designed to counter withdrawal symptoms, may not be relevant. However, social smokers may be more motivated to quit when educated on the dangers of their secondhand smoke. There is a need for new research on defining the health impact of nondaily and social smoking.

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