CBS Local — There’s no such thing as just smoking a little bit, according to a new study. British researchers say that even smoking just one cigarette a day still has a significant impact on a person’s risk for developing heart disease or having a stroke.
In a report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a smoker who had one cigarette daily was 50 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease and 30 percent more likely to have a stroke than someone who never smoked before.
“No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease,” the researchers wrote in the BMJ.
The report focused on the results of 141 smoking studies to discover the differences in a person’s health as they cut down on their daily smoking habits.
“There’s been a big shift from people smoking 20 to 25 cigarettes a day to only smoking a few cigarettes a day with the assumption that’s good enough for them,” lead author Dr. Allan Hackshaw told Medscape Cardiology.
Hackshaw adds that while cutting down on smoking may reduce the risk of developing cancer, the real threat is coming from cardiovascular disease.
“We have some hard data that says even a cigarette a day is harmful—and not just a little harmful, but increases your risk 50% to 75% of the time,” Dr. Hackshaw warns.
The study concludes that the only way to reduce the risk of smoking’s top two side-effects, heart disease and stroke, was to quit completely or switch to nicotine replacement treatments.
“It’s addiction to nicotine that keeps people smoking but it’s the tar in cigarette smoke that does the serious damage,” Deborah Arnott of the health charity ASH said to the BBC.