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One Cigarette A Day Is Still One Too Many, Research Shows

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“Light” smokers, or those who go through less than a pack of cigarettes per day, still have an increased chance of premature deaths than non-smokers, a new study reports.

Maki Inoue-Choi, from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, said in an email to Fox News,

There is no safe level of cigarette smoking.

She added, “Even smokers who consistently smoked less than one cigarette per day were more likely to die in our study than never smokers.”

Smoking tobacco is a major public health challenge that is responsible for over five million deaths every year, worldwide. A growing number of smokers claim to be light smokers, using less than half a pack of cigarettes a day, the researchers found. This used to be the trend that smokers who were trying to quit followed, but instead, it has become an increasing pattern.

The research team monitored 290,000 adults between the ages of 59 to 82, including over 22,000 current smokers and over 156,000 former smokers. All participants completed surveys in 2004 and 2005.

In 2011, the adults who had consistently smoked at least part of one cigarette a day were 64% more likely to have died of any cause, compared to non-smokers. Smoking one to 10 cigarettes a day also showed an 87% higher chance of dying from any number of causes than not smoking at all.

Former smokers did much better when they quit while they were young. Those who kicked the habit after the age of 50 had a 42% more chance of dying early compared to those who had stopped smoking at an earlier age.

The study highlights that even light smokers are susceptible to serious health risks, the researchers note. The results also showed that there was very little benefit in cutting back from two packs a day to half a pack a day, meaning there’s no point in downplaying the risks – all cigarette smoking is not good for the health, no matter how little a person smokes, the researchers conclude.

The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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