Some people smoke when hanging out with friends or to feel comfortable in social situations. Social smokers smoke occasionally and almost always in groups—often while drinking alcohol. For many people, drinking alcohol is a trigger, or an activity they connect with smoking.
Many social smokers do not think they are harming themselves because they do not smoke every day; however, there are health consequences if you smoke, even if it is only once in a while. Social smoking is not safe. Every cigarette harms your health. If you smoke at all, you are at higher risk of heart disease and cancer than people who don’t smoke.
Even one cigarette now and then might hurt your social life too. Like regular smokers, social smokers have the smell of smoke on their clothes and on their breath. Plus, social smoking means the people you’re with are exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is dangerous to anyone who breathes it in.
Smoking hookah is a common form of social smoking that is popular with young people and college students. Many people think that hookah is a healthier choice than traditional cigarettes. It can be just as harmful as cigarettes—or worse. Even after passing through water, hookah smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and chemicals known to cause cancer. One hookah session has the same harmful effects on your body as smoking five packs of cigarettes.
The good news: it can be easier to quit smoking if you are a social smoker. That’s because you might only smoke in certain situations or have specific triggers that encourage your smoking. You will still face challenges. Try to develop a plan for how you will handle being around people who are smoking or in places where you used to smoke. There are better ways to socialize than by smoking. Spending time with nonsmokers who share your interests or going to places where smoking isn’t allowed can help.