Classic paper: health consequences of smoking1-4 cigarettes

The journal Tobacco Control has on its website a list of the top 10 most read articles each month. One paper that has been near the top ever since it was published in 2005, was written by Dr Kjell Bjartveit and his colleague Dr Tverdal, on “Health consequences of smoking 1-4 cigrettes per day.”

The study included 23 521 men and 19 201 women, aged 35–49 years when they were initially screened for cardiovascular disease risk factors in the mid 1970s and followed them up to 2002. The researchers calculated the total risks of death and relative risks adjusted for confounding variables, of dying from ischaemic heart disease, all cancer, lung cancer, and from all causes, and examined the effects of regular smoking of only a few cigarettes per day.

The study found that both men and women who smoked 1-4 cigarettes per day were about 3 times as likely as people who never smoked of dieing from a heart attack, 3-5 times as likely of dieing from lung cancer, and overall about 50% more likely to have died from any cause during the study period.

As in many other studies, the risks were greater the more the participants smoked. For example, people who smoked over 25 cigarettes per day were 37 times more likely to die of lung cancer than people who never smoked.
The study was important in that it showed that there really isn’t a threshold of cigarette consumption below which its safe to smoke.

The full version of this paper and many other influential tobacco research papers can be found by cutting and pasting this link:

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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.