I Only Smoke When…


You aren’t a smoker. You just like a cigarette now and then. As a matter of fact, you only smoke when…

If you smoke “when,” then you are most likely a social smoker. Tobacco use is considered a social activity if you use it in social situations:

  • At bars, nightclubs, parties, and restaurants
  • To bond with friends or family
  • With a smoking or chewing “buddy” (for example, taking a smoke break with a coworker)
  • To feel comfortable
  • With alcohol
  • With coffee or soda

You may think it’s not a big deal. But social smoking is just as harmful as any other type of tobacco use. With or without friends, cigarettes and chewing tobacco contain the same toxins. And it is not hard to go from the occasional smoke to a pack a day.

It can be hard to quit social smoking because being around your friends and family can be a trigger. You may even fear that your relationships will change when you decide to quit. And if your friend isn’t ready to quit with you, you may be tempted to give up your goal.

There are steps that you can take to help overcome these obstacles and stay tobacco-free:

  • Talk about it.
  • Walk away.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Create new routines and habits.
  • Join a new scene.
  • Remember why you are quitting.
  • Put up “no smoking” signs in your house and car.
  • Form a social network around a healthy common interest (for example, walking or bicycling).

Social smoking is smoking. You put your health at risk with each puff, no matter why—or how often—you smoke.