Doctors should strive to identify social smokers and offer them advice and tools to quit smoking. That’s according to the authors of a new American Journal of Health Promotion study of almost 40,000 people which found risks for hypertension and elevated cholesterol were similar between social smokers and daily smokers.
The study’s authors say the findings have implications for clinical practice and population health, and should prompt a re-think on how patients are asked about their smoking habits.
“This has been a fairly neglected part of the population. We know that regular smoking is an addiction, but providers don’t usually ask about social smoking,” said senior author Bernadette Melnyk. “The typical question is ‘Do you smoke or use tobacco?’ And social smokers will usually say ‘No’.”
Instead, the authors say questions such as “Do you ever smoke cigarettes or use tobacco in social situations such as at bars, parties, work events or family gatherings?” or “When was the last time you had a cigarette or used tobacco with friends?” may help to identify social smokers so that they can be counselled on the risk of social smoking and the benefits of smoking cessation.