“Occasional smokers” can also be addicted to nicotine

New York, December 24th (IANS): Even if you consider yourself a light or “occasional” smoker, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have escaped nicotine addiction entirely, new research warns.

Many light smokers – those who smoke one to four cigarettes a day or less – meet criteria for nicotine addiction and should therefore be considered for treatment, according to the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“In the past, some have believed that only patients who smoke about 10 cigarettes a day or more are addicts, and I still hear that sometimes,” said Jonathan Foulds, professor at Pennsylvania State University.

“But this study shows that many light smokers, including those who don’t smoke every day, may be dependent on cigarettes. It also suggests that we need to be more specific when asking about the frequency of cigarette smoking.”

The researchers examined an existing dataset from the National Institutes of Health in the US, including more than 6,700 smokers, who had been fully screened to see if they met the 11 criteria listed in the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) fulfilled. 5) for tobacco use disorder.

They found that 85 percent of daily cigarette smokers were addicted to some degree – either mildly, moderately, or severely dependent.

“Surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of those who smoked just one to four cigarettes a day were addicted, and around a quarter of those who smoked less than a week were addicted,” Foulds said.

The researchers found that the severity of cigarette addiction, as indicated by the number of criteria met, increased with the frequency of smoking. 35 percent of smokers smoked one to four cigarettes per day and 74 percent of smokers 21 cigarettes or more per day were moderately or severely addicted.

“Light smoking is rightly perceived as less harmful than heavy smoking, but it still poses significant health risks,” said Jason Oliver, assistant professor at Duke University in the United States.