Thursday 10th October 2019
"Smoking just a few cigarettes each day is just as bad for your lungs as burning through two packets," reports the Mail Online.
The headline reports a study that pooled the results of 6 population-based studies from the US including over 25,000 adults. It found that people's lung function – the amount of air that lungs can inhale and exhale – decreases almost as fast in people smoking 5 or fewer cigarettes a day, as people smoking 30 or more.
Lung function declines in most people as we get older. However, smoking has long been recognised as the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), where there is inflammation and narrowing of the air passages. This makes people get short of breath easily and have persistent cough.
As expected, the study found that lung function declined faster for smokers compared with people who had never smoked. Lung function was poorer the more cigarettes people smoked, but even "light" smokers were not far behind heavy smokers.
They also found that lung function continued to decline in people who quit smoking, although not nearly as fast as those who continued to smoke.
The researchers say their study shows that "there is no safe level of tobacco smoke" and that people wanting to avoid lung disease should stop smoking completely.
The study focused only on lung function and did not consider the other established harms caused by smoking, such as cancers and heart disease.
Many people think that smoking occasionally or at a low level is almost as good as stopping completely. This study shows that's not the case. Find out more about how to stop smoking.