Researchers found that many light smokers, those who smoke one to four cigarettes per day or fewer, meet the criteria for nicotine addiction and should be considered for treatment.
“In the past, some considered that only patients who smoke around 10 cigarettes per day or more were addicted, and I still hear that sometimes,” said Jonathan Foulds, professor of public health sciences and psychiatry and behavioral health, Penn State. “But this study demonstrates that many lighter smokers, even those who do not smoke every day, can be addicted to cigarettes.”
According to Jason Oliver, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Duke University, light smoking is better than heavy smoking, but still damaging to the body.
“Lighter smoking is correctly perceived as less harmful than heavy smoking, but it still carries significant health risks,” Oliver said. “Medical providers sometimes perceive lighter smokers as not addicted and, therefore, not in need of treatment, but this study suggests many of them may have significant difficulty quitting without assistance.”
Foulds says, “Surprisingly, almost two thirds of those smoking only one to four cigarettes per day were addicted, and around a quarter of those smoking less than weekly were addicted.”
The findings appeared in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.