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Smoking and Tobacco

<1/4 Cigarette Per Day

08/06/2009

Question:

Hi. I finally quit a 32 year, pack a day smoking habit 12 weeks ago. Was miserable because I have been smoking since I was a kid and it was the only way I knew how to deal with stress (or anything). Anyway, for the past few days, after my husband asked for a divorce, I have been having just 2 drags (really) at the end of the day. I think just that little bit will bring back a sense of security. I understand about all of the pitfalls - higher and higher doses, but if that did not happen and I stayed only at 2 drags per night, would the risks be minimal? If I quit totally (again) would I go through the chemical withdrawal all over again? Thanks

Answer:

First, let me congratulate you for "almost" quitting, and may I express my sympathies for your marriage challenges -- no fun.

Now, about two drags a day. I've been a doctor for over thirty years. I am sure it's possible, but in my experience, I've never met a formerly addicted smoker who cut down and then held his or her habit to one or two cigarettes a day. Inevitably the habit creeps back up to former levels. 100% of former smokers who relapse tell themselves this little white lie: "I'm just going to have a puff or two to settle my nerves." And then, a month or so later, the drug sucks them back in. This is the chief reason that statistically 97% of everyone who quits smoking on their own are back smoking again at the end of one year.



So I'm not even going to address the risks of 1/4 cigarette per day. That first five feet of a hundred foot fall doesn't really hurt at all. It's the likelihood of the ground coming at you fast that should pull you back from the edge of the cliff.

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Response by:

Rob  Crane, MD Rob Crane, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University