Low-intensity smokers are at increased risk of earlier death



Cigarette smoking causes more than 20 types of cancer, as well as other diseases, but the effects of low-intensity smoking (10 or fewer cigarettes per day) have not been well studied. If doctors and patients knew the effects of low-intensity smoking on human health, they could make more informed lifestyle decisions.


IRP researchers led by Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., and Neal Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., found that among 290,215 adults in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, current smokers who had smoked less than 1 cigarette per day over their lifetimes had a 64% higher all-cause mortality risk, and smokers who had smoked 1 to 10 cigarettes per day had a 87% times higher risk than people who never smoked. Former smokers has a lower mortality risk compared to those who continued to smoke, and risks fell with earlier ages at quitting.


The team’s results provide further evidence to demonstrate that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, and even low-intensity smokers do benefit from quitting.


Inoue-Choi M, Liao L, Reyes-Guzman C, Hartge P, Caporaso N, Freedman ND. (2016). Association of long-term low-intensity smoking with all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. JAMA Internal Medicine. 177(1):87-95.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, June 13, 2023