Halving daily cigarette quota has no health benefit

November 28, 2006

Halving the number of cigarettes smoked every day in the belief that it will stave off an early death makes no difference, suggests research in Tobacco Control.

Although reducing consumption may have a place as a temporary measure in smoking cessation, this study proves quite clearly that the only safe way out of the risk caused by smoking is to quit, say the authors.

They base their findings on more than 51,000 men and women, all of whom were aged between 20 and 34 at the start of the study.

Participants were initially assessed for cardiovascular risk factors, and then screened again twice at an interval of three to 10 years, adding up to an average monitoring period of over two decades.

Participants were classified as never smokers; ex smokers, quitters (those who gave up between the first and second check); moderate smokers (1 to 14 cigarettes daily); reducers (more than 15 cigarettes a day, cut by more than half at the second check); and heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day).

Among men, deaths from lung cancer and cancers associated with smoking were not significantly lower in those who had cut back compared with heavy smokers. But this was not true of women who cut back, where the reverse was true.

And men who cut back only had slightly lower death rates from all causes combined than the heavy smokers during the first 15 years. After that, death rates were comparable.

And there were no significant differences in death rates from specific causes, including early death from cardiovascular disease, among women who cut back their daily consumption, compared with those who continued to smoke heavily.

Women who cut back actually had higher death rates from all causes combined than heavy smokers.

The authors conclude that long term monitoring provides no evidence that heavy smokers, who halve their daily cigarette consumption, significantly cut their risk of early death. They add that people may be misled if they are advised that cutting back will help them stave off disease.

Source: BMJ Specialty Journals

Explore further: Heavy smokers who cut back still take in more toxins than light smokers

Related Stories

Study: CT scans modestly cut lung cancer deaths

November 4, 2010

(AP) -- A special type of CT scan can detect lung cancer early enough to save some lives, the National Cancer Institute announced Thursday - the first evidence that a screening test may help fight the nation's top cancer ...

Smoker alert: Information you can live with

February 1, 2010

Smoking affects your cardiac health both before and after a major event like a heart attack. But how much? And does cutting back instead of quitting have a positive effect as well?

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.