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Just One Cigarette a Day Increases Chances of Stroke and Heart Disease

Just One Cigarette a Day Increases Chances of Stroke and Heart Disease


Just One Cigarette a Day Increases Chances of Stroke and Heart Disease

Quitting cigarettes is difficult. Everyone who has gone through it can tell you it's a long and distressing process, and that every day your body, used to its regular dose of nicotine, screams out “Just smoke one!” and asks you questions like “How bad can one cigarette be?”

A new study published by Professor Allan Hackshaw of the Cancer Institute at University College London looked at exactly that: what happens if you smoke just one combustible cigarette a day, while maintaining an otherwise smoke-free lifestyle? The answers are not good: according this study, one cigarette increases your chance of a stroke by 30 percent and increases your chance of heart disease by as much as 50 percent.

The results from this research study suggest that simply cutting back on combustible cigarettes is not enough to lessen the severe risks associated with smoking. The only way to completely be in the clear so far as health risks from tobacco go is complete cessation of using tobacco. One strategy that can lead to complete cessation is vaping, which promotes a risk reduction from cigarettes.

The Study

First, the researchers of the Hackshaw study began by reviewing the results of 141 previous studies and, using that wealth of information, estimated the associated health risks of smoking one, five, and twenty cigarettes per day. The scientists also separated their findings by gender, and focused specifically on smoking in relation to heart disease and stroke.

The study did not focus on the carcinogenic value of a single cigarette, instead focusing on the effects more generally from combustible cigarettes. It’s been previously reported that vaping is only one percent as carcinogenic as combustible cigarettes.


Men who smoke one cigarette per day can still expect to experience about 46 percent of the health risks of heart disease compared to a pack-a-day smoker. For woman, it’s only 31 percent.

Health risks associated with stroke only decline by about 41 percent in men who smoke one cigarette a day, which isn't much compared to the benefits of quitting entirely. For women, the number falls to 66 percent comparatively. That means two out of every three women who smoke one cigarette a day are just as likely to have a stroke as women who smoke a pack a day.

For both men and women, smoking just one cigarette per day increases the chances of heart disease by over 50 percent compared to someone who never smoked. That number increases exponentially depending on the daily cigarette intake of the smoker above just one.

The Silver Lining

The one good bit of information that came as a result of the study was that all these risks disappear after complete cessation.

“As we have found that a large proportion of the cardiovascular risk caused by smoking comes from just one cigarette per day, we hope that our findings could be used to strengthen public health campaigns and provide increased incentive for people to stop smoking. Smokers could make use of various smoking cessation aids, with positive support from friends and their family doctor. The great news is that much of the risk of heart disease and stroke goes away only a few years after stopping,” the study observed.