So, you’re a casual smoker; that means you’re not at risk, right? After all, you only have a few cigarettes per week, and maybe just a few more on the weekend when you’re with friends. You’re not a “heavy” smoker. You should be safe from harm as long as you keep your smoking to a minimum.
This belief system is inherently false. While it’s certainly true that more frequent smoking can increase the risk of certain health complications and speed up the process, your casual smoking can be just as harmful to both you and those around you. The fact is, cigarettes are loaded with harmful chemicals; about 7,000, to be exact. Even if you smoke just one cigarette per day, you’re exposing your internal organs to toxic chemicals and carcinogens.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the health risks of “casual” smoking so you can get a better idea of how you’re affecting your health.
Yes, you can still develop lung cancer from “casually” smoking. It doesn’t matter if you smoke one cigarette per day or just a few per week; you’re still exposing your lungs, one of your most vital organs, to harmful chemicals. The minute you inhale cigarette smoke, you’re damaging the tiny air sacs (called alveoli) which contribute to healthy lung function. Not to mention, you’re inhaling chemicals that end up in your bloodstream and are distributed throughout your body.
Lung cancer is not only a destructive disease, but it’s also an expensive one. You might justify casual smoking as a “less costly” alternative to heavy smoking, but once you see the bill for your lung cancer treatment, you’ll think otherwise. Even if you have insurance coverage, you’re easily looking at tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs.
The higher your blood pressure is, the narrower your vessels are. Higher blood pressure can cause damage to these vessels, causing tears and blockages and damage to cardiac muscle/tissue. When you inhale cigarette smoke, your vessels constrict, thus increasing your overall blood pressure and making the circulatory system work that much harder.
Hypertension is actually one of the leading causes of heart complications. You’re increasing your risk for problems like heart attack or stroke, which can both be life-threatening.
Smoking simply wreaks havoc on your heart and blood vessels, even if you’re only smoking a few times per week.
You’ve probably noticed that your casual smoking habit has seemingly increased as time goes by. You went from just a few cigarettes on the weekends to a few per week. Now, you’re finding that you want a cigarette at least once per day, but you can’t explain why. This is because you’re slowly becoming addicted to the dangerous chemical called nicotine, which is present in tobacco products.
Nicotine is one of the world’s most addictive substances, and it’s what keeps smokers coming back for more. It’s easy to get hooked on it, too. Just a few cigarettes in a short period of time can leave you wanting more of it, and, eventually, you find that you can’t function without it.
This is the reason most smokers are opting for products like tobacco free pouches. While tobacco free products do still contain nicotine, they make an excellent segway between casual smoking and giving up the habit for good.
Smokers actually have higher rates of depression than non-smokers, and there seems to be a link between smoking habits and mental health. While the exact link is still unclear, what scientists do know is that smoking has negative effects on self-perception and anxiety levels. Our brains think the cigarette is helping to soothe anxiety, but in reality, you’re only feeding your nicotine withdrawal. Withdrawal can cause higher anxiety and some uncomfortable side-effects like irritability and constipation.
In both men and women, smoking can affect reproductive organs to the point of infertility. The chemicals found in a single cigarette are enough to increase the loss of eggs in a woman or sperm in men and can cause several complications if a pregnancy is successful.
If you’re planning on starting a family, leaving smoking out of the equation is probably a good idea. Not to mention, children are much more susceptible to the harmful effects of cigarette smoke.
Smoking can not only damage your teeth, but it can also cause gum damage, gingivitis, bad breath, and has been linked to several mouth and throat cancers. Are you noticing a theme here? Smoking does nothing for the body but destroy it. Even if you’re just casually smoking a few cigarettes per week, you’ve already drastically increased your risk of developing cancer.
Your dentist wouldn’t be very happy if he knew you were smoking! Avoid expensive dental work and cancer treatments by putting down the cigarettes for good. You’ll notice a whiter smile, too!