People who cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke, instead of quitting entirely, won’t lengthen their life, a new study finds.
Scottish researchers studied two groups of people. One group of 1,524 smokers was tracked from the 1970s to 2010. During the study, the researchers asked them whether they increased, maintained, or reduced their smoking intensity, or whether they quit smoking. The second group of 3,730 people from the general population was tracked for the same time period. They found no difference in death rates between people who smoked the same amount and those who cut down.
Smokers who quit were 25 to 34 percent less likely to die over the course of the study, HealthDay reports.
The results “support the view that reducing cigarette consumption should not be promoted as a means of reducing mortality, although it may have a valuable role as a step toward smoking cessation,” the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
“You may be fooling yourself if you think that reducing the number of daily cigarettes will protect you from the health risk of smoking,” said Dr. Steve Schroeder, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study. He noted that cutting down on smoking makes it easier for people to quit later. “It also reduces the exposure of others to secondhand smoke,” he added.