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Lighting up to fit in

I have been noticing a trend lately during my walks around the city - lots of young people (especially women) smoking. I wondered if the trend of smoking less had reversed. I remember reading many articles regarding the drop in percentage of those who smoked, and I saw less and less smokers out on the streets, until recently. It seems there has been a resurgence in terms of smoking being "hip" and "cool" among twenty-something’s. But many do not consider themselves addicted; they consider themselves "social smokers".

What exactly is social smoking? Well, it varies. Generally it means only smoking in social situations, and not being an addict. However, one UK study claims that almost a quarter of those who would classify themselves as social smokers actually smoke 6-20 cigarettes a day. For these social smokers, the only difference between them and "hard" smokers is in how they classify themselves. Addiction isn't cool, but social smoking is. In the same UK study, 13 percent said part of the reason they smoke was because their friends smoked and they did not like being left alone on nights out.

Social smoking is on the rise everywhere. In Canada, between 2001 and 2011, the number of light daily smokers increased for both men and women (from 36.7% to 43.0% for men, and 51.2% to 62.2% for women). The US showed a 12% increase in casual smoking (one to five cigarettes per day) between 1991 and 2009 for teenagers. The UK has also seen a rise in social smoking. But social smokers should take caution. Just smoking a few cigarettes a day has an impact on your health and the wellbeing of those around you. Every time a single cigarette is smoked, the blood is filled with harmful toxins which circulate through the body in seconds, increasing the changes of a heart attack or stroke. The best option is avoid cigarettes, period.

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