They're younger, more often black or Hispanic, report finds
MONDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- The dangers of heavy and regular cigarette smoking are well known, but researchers have now produced an overview of "light" smokers in the United States.
The examination of intermittent or occasional smokers, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates make up one of five smokers in the country, is published in a series of studies and articles in a special March issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
Among the findings:
"In order to adequately address the issue of tobacco use in this country, we cannot overlook light and intermittent smokers," Pebbles Fagan, a scientist in the Tobacco Research Branch of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, said in a news release from a sponsor of the research. "Research suggests an impending global pandemic of light smokers, and we must take what this paper outlines and move the agenda forward in advancing research of the full spectrum of smokers."
The special issue focuses on people who smoke fewer than 15 cigarettes a day and who may not smoke every day. The idea stemmed from a 2005 meeting of health experts, researchers and scientists who noted that most tobacco research and cessation efforts focused only on heavy and regular use of the product, even though it is generally accepted that any level of cigarette smoking is bad for one's health.
"This special issue is chapter one of a very important volume in the overall fight against tobacco," Cheryl G. Healton, president and chief executive of the American Legacy Foundation, said in the news release. "We are yet to fully understand the best ways to help these light smokers quit -- a very important goal as they represent an increasing percentage of the smoking population."
The American Legacy Foundation, an anti-tobacco group created as part of the 1998 national settlement against the tobacco industry, co-funded the special issue along with the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse and the U.S. National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.
Smokefree.gov has more about how to quit smoking.
-- Kevin McKeever
SOURCE: The American Legacy Foundation, news release, March 20, 2009
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