Social smoking is a dangerously underestimated problem. With May 31 having marked World No Tobacco Day, we give you the four-step guide to stubbing out those occasional ciggies for good.

It’s a common phrase: “I just have one or two socially.” We seem to think that the word ‘social’ reduces association with the full-time smoking community. Unfortunately, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee (without the accompanying cigarette, of course). While we may view social smoking as the odd naughty indulgence, like chocolate cake and One Direction, facts show that it can kill.

A study by Professor Robert West revealed that a non-smoker who lives with an 80 per day smoker will inhale just one per cent of the cigarette smoke, yet has a 33 per cent increased risk of developing heart disease.

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 Toxins in tobacco smoke are so harmful that they peak at very low levels of exposure, which means that the risk of heart disease stays pretty constant whether you’re a devoted puffer or not. The advice is simple – stay away from any tobacco.

Here’s a four-step guide to giving up the ciggies:

STEP ONE: Much of the help available seems to be aimed at full-blown smokers – nicotine patches and e-cigarettes are a little drastic if you only have the odd puff on a Friday night, and they can even increase addiction. “Keep a diary for a week, writing down every situation in which you smoke, how you feel before, and how you feel afterwards,” says Patrick Holford, author of How To Quit Without Feeling S***. This is particularly important for social smokers as, often, they aren’t actually addicted to the cigarettes, but have created a habit of association. 

STEP TWO: This stage is all about breaking the situational habit. “If you find you’re smoking more when you go for a coffee or dinner with friends, smoke as much as you like whenever you like, but not when you drink a hot drink or within 30 minutes of finishing a meal,” Patrick explains. “Continue like this until, when you smoke, all you do is smoke, without the associated habits. Set yourself a maximum of six weeks to complete this phase.”

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STEP THREE: “Whenever you feel the need for nicotine, first drink a glass of water and eat an apple,” says Patrick. This distracts you, but, more importantly, it increases blood sugar levels, which reduces craving. “There are five things you can do to speed up this process: exercise, sweating, drinking plenty of water and supplementing vitamin C and niacin,” he adds.

STEP FOUR: So you’ve kicked the habit, now it’s time to give yourself some TLC. “Go for a brisk walk every day in clean air. Any exercise that focuses on breathing, such as yoga, is ideal,” says Patrick. “This is a great time to trade in the social smoking for the gym, jogging, cycling or swimming.”


 Smoking harms every organ in your body.

 It causes heart disease, strokes, cancer and lung disease to name just a few.

 Over 4000 chemical compounds and 400 toxins are absorbed into the body with each cigarette.

 Smokers are 40 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

 Nicotine stains walls, teeth and fingers – imagine what it does to your lungs.

•  Smoking accelerates signs of ageing.


Words: Sarah Garden

Image: Shutterstock