Social Smoking Might Not Be As Harmless As You Would Think

Social smokers serve their name – they only smoke when socializing, on Friday nights, on the weekends, outside bars or restaurants. However, they’ll get confused once you ask them whether they do smoke or not.

If you have watched “Friends” (as most of us mortals have), you will remember the eighteenth episode of the fifth season, called “The One Where Rachel Smokes”. Now, you remember why she started smoking, don’t you? She had just started out her new job, filled with ambitions and different dynamics. Turns out, her boss was a huge smoker, and Rachel’s colleague with whom she was competing over the promotion happened to be a smoker too. She finds out that both her rival and her boss spend most of their smoking breaks discussing big ideas and work-related plans. And Rachel fears missing out on all those important talks and bonding moments, just because she is not a smoker. Hence, she starts smoking when around her boss or her colleagues, just to keep up with them, and turns into a social smoker.

Why do people become social smokers and what are the consequences?

Social smokers serve their name – they only smoke when socializing, on Friday nights, on the weekends, outside bars or restaurants. However, they’ll get confused once you ask them whether they do smoke or not. The reason why these people start smoking is more or less obvious – the need to be part of a group, a routine, or because their need for a cigarette is associated with certain places (bars, nightclubs). However, studies show that these people are not actually addicted to nicotine itself, as smokers usually are, but they’re rather addicted to the act of smoking in certain circumstances.

Of course, their excuses are always the same: “this is the only cigarette I’ve had today”, “I don’t buy my own pack of cigarettes”, or “I only smoke on the weekends”. However, just because you do not smoke regularly, that does not mean you’re off the hook from all the unhealthy consequences of smoking. Here are some of them.

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Increasing stress and anxiety

Often, you hear people saying that they’re smoking because they feel tense, and that smoking helps them cope with stress. In fact, according to research, smoking only increases anxiety and tension. The false feeling of relief happens because nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation, so people smoke believing that it reduces stress and anxiety. This feeling is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal symptoms and increased cravings.

 

Shortening your life

There are many studies available regarding just how harmful smoking is, and how it shortens up one’s life. In fact, for every cigarette, your life gets shortened by eleven minutes. And if you think that you will get away with it, just because you are a social smoker, better think again. According to British researchers, lighting up a cigarette just once a day is linked to a much higher risk of heart disease and stroke than might be expected.

“These lighter-smoking young adults frequently do not even consider themselves smokers, but they are still at risk of developing coronary heart disease from smoking even a small amount of cigarettes,” – Patricia Folan, Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health, Great Neck, N.Y. for webmd.com.

 

Aging your skin

Of course, you knew this, but it is worth emphasizing that as nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, it also reduces oxygen flow and nutrients to skin cells. This is how smoking impacts your skin, as nicotine and other present chemicals in cigarettes lead to premature aging and the appearance of wrinkles. The good news is your skin recovers its elasticity once you stop smoking. You still have time!

 

Causing Insomnia

Except for being a drug, nicotine is also a stimulant, just like caffeine is. We all know coffee before bed is a bad idea, and so is smoking. According to a 2013 University of Florida study, the average person loses 1.2 minutes of sleep for every cigarette they smoke, due to nicotine’s stimulating and subsequent withdrawal effects. Smoking close to bedtime leads to struggles to fall asleep, considering that nicotine disrupts our natural sleep-wake cycle. Withdrawal symptoms set in before the morning alarm goes off, often leaving smokers feeling even more restless and agitated.

 


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