Despite decades of public health campaigning, many smokers think it’s okay to just smoke a few cigarettes a day. The fact is, they are underestimating their risks, according to researchers in France.

“It seems that people are aware about the dangers of tobacco for health, but might consider that the risks are not for themselves, but only for other people,” says Dr Laurent Greillier.

Dr Greillier and his team surveyed 1,602 French people between the ages of 40 and 75, of which 1,463 had no history of cancer.

Smoking one a day

Just one can’t hurt can it? Research says yes. Photo: AFP

Of the component that had never experienced cancer, 481 were former smokers and 330 were current smokers, puffing away 14.2 cigarettes per day, on average.

Of the total participant group, 34% wrongly believed that a daily consumption of up to 10 cigarettes was not associated with the risk of lung cancer, according to results.

“The risk for lung cancer is most dependent on duration of smoking, but of course the number per day matters also,” says Dr Carolyn Dresler, a US-based board member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).

“The risk for cardiovascular disease starts with that one cigarette per day.”

Half of the current smokers seemed to realise their increased risk for lung cancer over the non-smoking population.

Less than 40% of participants were aware that the increased risk never returns to that of a non-smoker even after quitting.

“It is essential that our public health policies continue to maintain focus on the tobacco pandemic,” says Dr Greillier. “Our findings suggest to urgently initiating campaigns concerning the risk of any cigarette.

“The war against tobacco is not over!”

The study was presented recently at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) in Geneva, Switzerland. – AFP Relaxnews