The dangers of being a “social smoker”


What to do when party darts become a coping mechanism

I can say with almost absolute certainty that nobody has ever tried their first cigarette and thought “wow this is incredible, I should definitely take up smoking!”

The reality is that most people follow a common path when becoming daily smokers, or even social smokers.

The habit usually starts out by occasionally indulging in a dart or two at a house party, never actually consuming more than a few, and certainly never owning your own pack. People see this as a social habit, something to do on the weekends but never in the daylight (unless attending a darty, of course). Many people remain at this stage, but it is entirely possible to fall deeper into the habit. If you pass the stage of social smoking, you may start to smoke during the day, more often than before, but only when you’re stressed out. At this point, you still don’t see your smoking as an issue. Then, finally, you’ll begin smoking every day and craving the tobacco, buying your own packs of cigarettes as a result and smoking out of habit rather than smoking solely based on feeling.

This is how easy it can be to shift from a non-smoker, to a social smoker, and then eventually to a full-fledged nicotine addict. Not everyone makes this transition, in fact, many people remain a social smoker because they don’t think it will have as big of an effect on their health. But, this is completely inaccurate.

If you start out as a social smoker, you may not actually even be addicted to nicotine. The experience of smoking for many social smokers relies heavily on the psychological factors associated with smoking, rather than the physical addictive properties.

For example, it could be the little headrush that you get when taking a puff from somebody else’s cigarette that brings you satisfaction. Or, maybe you just feel slightly cooler when holding a cigarette in your hand in a social situation. It could even be something that you do to calm your nerves a bit when you’re hanging out in an unfamiliar environment.

But, the fact is that the negative consequences of smoking heavily outweigh the positives. Everybody knows that smoking is bad for you, plain and simple. It isn’t necessary for me to dive into all of the terrible side-effects associated with smoking. I mean, we’re all well aware that smoking is a cause of preventable mortality, it’s linked to various cancers and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, it can cause major respiratory issues, and can even cause impotence. Most people know that even second-hand smoke can, at times, be just as dangerous for your health as actively smoking.

The list goes on and on, and sadly most people are aware of these facts, yet still choose to smoke.

For social smokers, this can be due to the fact that they don’t realize how smoking in any capacity can damage their health, even if it is only in social situations. People who smoke solely in social situations will claim that they’re non-smokers because they don’t view their smoking as a problem. Since they don’t feel as though they’re addicted to smoking, they’ll often be blind to the negative effects that smoking can have on their health.

It is impossible to avoid stressful situations altogether, but rather than letting this stress lead you to smoking, it can genuinely save your life if you are capable of coming up with a more health-positive coping mechanism in place of smoking.

But, the best way to prevent becoming a smoker is to never indulge in smoking in the first place, no matter how little you do it. Social smoking may not seem like a problem, but eventually you are likely to become a heavy smoker and at that point it’ll be way more difficult to quit.

It’s easier said than done, especially in a university town where drinking goes hand in hand with social smoking. However, it helps to be conscious of the fact that smoking, even if it’s just a party dart here or there, can damage your health severely.