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Researchers Profile the 'Light' Smoker
Date:4/6/2009

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:

  • Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders were more likely to be light or intermittent smokers than whites.
  • Adults younger than 35 were more likely than older adults to smoke fewer than six cigarettes a day. In addition, though smoking in general decreased among Americans aged 30 or older, light and intermittent smoking rose among adults younger than 30.
  • Young adults who smoked but lived in states with stricter policies on smoking or in smoke-free homes were more likely to be light and intermittent smokers.
  • Adolescents who had fewer than four cigarettes a day showed no significant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal 24 hours after their last puff, whereas those smoking four or five cigarettes a day did.
  • College students who smoked at least five days a month were more likely to experience shortness of breath than their nonsmoking peers.

"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 spectr
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