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Risks of Occasional Smoking

author image Ashley Miller
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.
Risks of Occasional Smoking
You still face numerous risks if you only smoke occasionally. Photo Credit: Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Occasional smoking, or social smoking, means that you don't smoke every day. Perhaps you smoke only in a social context on the weekends or just when you're in the company of friends who smoke. You might think there's no real harm done, but consider the results of a 2008 study published in the journal "Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology." This study found that artery function is impaired even in occasional smokers. That's not the only risk of occasional smoking.

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Heart Disease

Regardless of whether you smoke a little or a lot, your risk for heart disease is much higher than that of a nonsmoker. According to the British Lung Foundation, cigarette smoking causes the release of certain damaging substances into your bloodstream that can potentially increase your risk of angina, stroke and heart attack.

Lung Damage

According to the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) publication "The Truth About Social Smoking," social smokers are at a higher risk of developing lung damage and lung cancer than nonsmokers. Even if you don't smoke a lot, for example, one or two cigarettes a day, the risk is still greater than if you don't smoke at all.

Alcohol Abuse

Social smokers often smoke in places where alcohol is available, such as parties and bars. According to the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, social smokers often drink more than nonsmokers. Therefore, your risk of overindulging in alcohol and causing serious liver damage is much higher than a nonsmoker's risk. Furthermore, the AADAC points out that around 75 percent of all mouth and throat cancers are caused by a combination of alcohol and smoking.

Secondhand Smoke

If you smoke socially, you're probably exposed to others who are also smoking. Breathing in secondhand smoke is actually more dangerous than smoking alone. According to the British Lung Foundation, there are more harmful fibers and chemicals in secondhand smoke than the smoke you inhale through a filter. Even if you only smoke every now and then, you're still contributing to polluting the air with secondhand smoke. Furthermore, smoking, whether it's occasional or regular, poses a huge health risk to others around you.

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