Smoking Cessation

The Casual Smoker: An Overview

The overall frequency of tobacco use is decreasing in the United States – but the percentage of casual smokers is increasing as high as 50% among some groups. From a clinical standpoint, the casual or occasional smoker may be hard to identify and treat. If a patient only smokes on the weekends when she drinks or has an occasional cigarette to reduce stress, she may respond “No” when asked during an annual visit if she is a smoker.

Casual smokers have the propensity to become heavy to moderate smokers. As a result, it is important that physicians advise and counsel them on the benefits of quitting accordingly. Light smoking fluctuates among subpopulations and is particularly common among adolescents, college students, women, pregnant women and ethnic minorities such as African Americans, Latinos and Asians. Additionally, recent evidence has shown that light smokers can be nicotine dependent.

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