Who still smokes, the Wall Street Journal wonders this morning. Turns out it's a bunch of folks. You got your social smokers, your secret smokers, your stress smokers, your emotional smokers, your weight-averse smokers, and your too-afraid-to-quit smokers, apparently. But there is also a new breed of cigarette-enjoyer out there: the intermittent smoker.
Even though the percentage of American adults who smoke has stalled at about 20% in recent years, smokers are smoking fewer cigarettes than they used to (an average of 13 per day, down from 21 in 1980). And a growing proportion of smokers-roughly 25%-don't smoke every day. One government study found that as many as half of American smokers either don't smoke daily or smoke fewer than six cigarettes a day….
Researchers used to think light and intermittent smoking was a transitional phase for smokers on their way to quitting or ramping up to a more serious habit. But a few recent studies suggest that it's a new, stable pattern particularly among young, college-educated smokers. An analysis of smoking patterns during the 1990s, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research last year, found that 18-to-29-year-olds were twice as likely as those aged 50 to 64 to be nondaily smokers. Many experts expect that pattern to continue.
Those experts warn that even intermittent smoking carries severe health risks, and it also makes you kind of a pussy, because you know what? If you're gonna smoke, smoke. We don't need you Johnny-Smoke-Latelies on our rugged little island with your two-stick-a-day habit, bumming from us outside of bars because you "forgot" your "emergency pack" at home. I'm sick of you people. Cigarettes cost more than 50 cents each now. You want cancer? Get it on your own dime. Or, more accurately, five of them.
[There is also a fun, "interactive" quiz which lets you test your nicotine dependency. I scored a 7! Yay!]