June 25th, 2009
01:34 PM ET

Is an occasional cigarette that bad for you?

As a regular feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors answers readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Troy in Silver Spring, Maryland:

“I heard President Obama recently admit that he still smokes cigarettes occasionally. I know he is trying to quit but I’m curious what the health ramifications are for someone who just smokes once in a while?”


Great question, Troy. More than 46 million adults in America smoke cigarettes. But 70 percent say they would like to quit, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. There is no question that smoking is a hard habit to break. It's been suggested that nicotine could be as addictive as heroin. And like many Americans reading this right now, the president also struggles to break the habit. Obama admits that,  “as a former smoker, I constantly struggle with it. …Have I fallen off the wagon? Yes."

However, it’s a myth to believe that if you smoke only two cigarettes a week for example, or just on the weekends, that it won't affect your health. Even a few cigarettes can increase your blood pressure,and  put you at a slightly increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Some studies show that young smokers who light up only occasionally have signs of artery disease. And though their risk of developing cancer is nowhere near that of a regular smoker, compared with a non-smoker, the risk is elevated.

One group the new anti-tobacco bill targets are so-called "social smokers.’" The concern is that social smoking can turn into a full-time habit very quickly. Big tobacco companies spend millions of dollars researching and marketing to this demographic.

What’s constitutes a social smoker? If you were to ask them, they’d tell you they don’t consider themselves smokers because they don’t do it every day. Studies show social smokers are younger, often  smoke only with friends at social functions and typically don’t typically purchase their own cigarettes in packs. Because of this, tobacco companies often market to social smokers in bars and clubs. The FDA will now regulate tobacco industry marketing in an effort to reduce social smoking in America.

Bottom line, Troy, is that no quantity of cigarettes is safe or healthy for our body. But for the millions of people struggling to quit right, don’t be discouraged if you slip up and smoke. Smoking one cigarette is much better than an entire pack. And by no means does it mean you’re a smoker again. Start fresh tomorrow. And check out www.smokefree.gov for great information on cessation and support programs.

soundoff (1,427 Responses)
  1. Commercial Roof Company

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?


    May 19, 2021 at 02:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Google Marketing Consultant

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. There's no doubt that that you need to publish more on this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don't speak about these issues. To the next! All the best!!


    May 19, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. the best energy pills


    May 19, 2021 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. safe energy pills

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always helpful to read articles from other authors and use a little something from other sites.


    May 19, 2021 at 04:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. vitamin pills for energy


    May 19, 2021 at 04:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Jobs

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the good writing.


    May 19, 2021 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Roofing Contractors Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Glasses And Eye Exam Near Me

    That is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 19, 2021 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Video Marketing Services

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes that produce the largest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 19, 2021 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sign Makers Near Me

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your web site.


    May 19, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Pool Management Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rental Jet Ski Lake Powell


    May 19, 2021 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Laughlin Jet Ski Rental Bullhead City Az


    May 19, 2021 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Printing Services Near Me

    This website definitely has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 19, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Fabrication Riverside


    May 19, 2021 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. rv blinds repair

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Kudos!


    May 19, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Pump Windshield Washer Sprinter Repair

    Can I simply just say what a relief to uncover somebody that genuinely knows what they are discussing online. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people should look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you're not more popular because you definitely possess the gift.


    May 19, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. trailer repair service near me

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site. I really hope to view the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal website now 😉


    May 19, 2021 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sprinter Van Repair

    This is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 19, 2021 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Leak Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. rv dealers in orange county ca

    Howdy, There's no doubt that your website could be having web browser compatibility problems. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, wonderful website!


    May 19, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Plumbing Los Angeles


    May 19, 2021 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Rust Repair Sprinter


    May 19, 2021 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. furniture refinishers orange county ca

    Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will revisit yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 19, 2021 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Body Shop Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Social Media Marketing Consultant

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!


    May 19, 2021 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rv vinyl wrap

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It's the little changes that make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    May 19, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Mattresses Orange County

    I enjoy reading through an article that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    May 19, 2021 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Upholstery Orange County


    May 19, 2021 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Video Marketing Company


    May 19, 2021 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Sound System Orange County

    I really love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my very own website and would like to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Appreciate it!


    May 19, 2021 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Local Marketing Services


    May 20, 2021 at 02:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Content Marketing Company

    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thank you!


    May 20, 2021 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. cyclosporine

    cyclosporine 100 mg cyclosporine pharmacology

    May 20, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. combigan

    brimonidine dosage generic combigan

    May 20, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Social Media Marketing Services

    That is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 20, 2021 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Social Media Marketing Agency Near Me

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't disappoint me as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    May 20, 2021 at 06:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Internet Marketing Companies

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly think this site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!


    May 20, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Content Marketing Consultants

    I absolutely love your website.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my very own website and would love to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Kudos!


    May 20, 2021 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Local Marketing Agencies Near Me

    You made some good points there. I looked on the internet for more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    May 20, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Digital Marketing Businesses

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I really hope to view the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal blog now 😉


    May 20, 2021 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Social Media Marketing Firms


    May 20, 2021 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Internet Marketing Companies

    I really like looking through an article that will make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    May 20, 2021 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Interior Remodeling Riverside

    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!


    May 20, 2021 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Frame Riverside

    Hello there! This article could not be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 20, 2021 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Storage Los Angeles


    May 20, 2021 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 2011 Mercedes Sprinter Rv Repair


    May 20, 2021 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. shopping xvideos


    May 20, 2021 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Shades California

    That is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 20, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Wraps Riverside


    May 20, 2021 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Leave a Reply to Gerardo Traina


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.