Social smoking and cardiovascular health

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An Epidemiological Study of Population Health Reveals Social Smoking as a Major Cardiovascular Risk Factor

A recent study finding outlines the risk of being a social smoker and the impacts on long-term health. The study findings are based on a nationally representative sample and included a cross-sectional survey that was carried out in community settings across the United States.

Authors: Kate Sustersic Gawlik, DNP, Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, Alai Tan, PhD

American Journal of Health Promotion, First published date: May-02-2017, 10.1177/0890117117706420



To present nationally representative data on the prevalence of “social” smoking and its relationship to cardiovascular health.


A population-based, cross-sectional survey on cardiovascular health and its risk factors across the United States.


Million Hearts® cardiovascular screenings that took place in community settings.


De-identified data were collected on a convenient sample of 39, 555 participants.


Reported smoking status, blood pressure, and total cholesterol.


The prevalence of current smoking, social smoking, and non-smoking were cross-tabulated and stratified by sample characteristics. The adjusted estimates were derived from multiple logistic regression models, adjusting for demographics and other biometric measures.


Ten percent identified as social smokers. Social smokers were more likely to be aged between 21 and 40, male, and Hispanic. Social smokers had significantly higher risks of having hypertension (odds ratio [OR]: 2.08, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.80-2.41) and elevated cholesterol (OR: 1.53, 95% CI: 1.33-1.75) than non-smokers. There was no significant difference between social smokers and current smokers (OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.80-1.14 for hypertension and OR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.81-1.11 for elevated cholesterol).


This is the first population health study to compare the blood pressure and cholesterol levels of people who self-identify as current verses social smokers. Although previous smoking behavior was not controlled for in the analysis, this study demonstrates there is no significant difference in the prevalence of elevated blood pressure or cholesterol among the 2 smoking groups.




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