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I smoke, but I'm not a smoker
Date:2/11/2014

While smoking among California adults has dramatically declined in recent decades, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report there is a surprisingly large number of people who say they use cigarettes, but don't consider themselves to be "smokers."

Writing in the February 5 online issue of Tobacco Control, Wael K. Al-Delaimy, MD, PhD, professor and chief of the Division of Global Health in the UC San Diego Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, and colleagues estimate that, in 2011, almost 396,000 Californians (12.3 percent of the state's population of smokers) smoked on a measurable basis, but rejected the characterization of "smoker."

Almost 22 percent of these smokers consumed tobacco on a daily basis.

Al-Delaimy said the phenomenon has both individual and social ramifications. For individuals, the behavior puts them at many of the same health risks as identified smokers. "There is no safe level of smoking," he said.

More broadly, non-identification of "non-identifying smokers" or NIS may be negatively impacting efforts to reduce tobacco consumption by overlooking a significant segment of the affected population, the researchers said. This is especially true at the clinical setting where physicians might ask patients if they smoke and patient fail to identify themselves as smokers.

In their cross-sectional analysis of the 2011 California Longitudinal Smokers Survey, Al-Delaimy and colleagues defined NIS as persons who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, reported smoking at least one day in the past 30 days or who said they smoked at least "some days." In all cases, when asked if they considered themselves to be a smoker, the respondents replied "No."

The researchers believe NIS can generally be divided into two groups with distinct rationalizations for asserting their non-smoker status: According to previous studies, the first group
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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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