Although recovering nicotine addicts may tend to see occasional smokers as all being the same, somehow immune to addiction, the below cluser survey study suggests subgroups. Interestingly, it found that just under half of non-daily smokers (47.5%) were still non-daily smokers one year later, with 17% admitting to having graduated to daily smoking and 35% becoming non-smokers.
Among the 375 surveyed non-daily smokers, the study identified four different clusters of occasional smokers. The first cluster (Cluster 1) were those who even though they didn't smoke every day still described themselves as being addicted, which accounted for 186 of the 375 non-daily smokers or 50%. Cluster 2 represented a "group of older smokers (71 of 375 or 19%) who did not perceive themselves as being addicted to smoking." Interestingly, this cluster had a higher than average percentage who had previously attempted to quit smoking but for some reason failed in those attempts. The 3rd cluster reflected younger smokers who had at one time smoked daily (98.8%) but now "perceived themselves as not addicted" (86 of 375 or 23%).
And the 4th and final cluster represented smokers who had never smoked daily, did not perceive themselves as addicted, and did not plan to quit (32 of 375 or 8.5%). What's most fascinating about this group is that it had the percentage of occasional smokers who had made at least one quitting attempt and failed, 53 perent. One year later a follow-up survey found that among this cluster of 32 occasional smokers 20% had become non-smokers and 2% had graduated to daily smoking.
I suspect that most of us admitted addicts probably thought that the average non-daily smokers didn't worry about the health effects of smoking. But this study found otherwise. Although "benefit" wasn't defined, surveyed non-daily smokers stating that they would benefit "quite a bit" or a lot from quitting included 100% of those in Cluster 1, 87% of Cluster 2, 75% in Cluster 3, and 65% in Cluster 4.
So if ever tempted to see the average occasional smoker (chipper) as being all that different from us, as this study suggests, most have far more in common than they probably care to admit. Although most chippers may not qualify as chemically dependent under DSM IV mental health standards, keep two factors in mind. A DSM IV nicotine dependency diagnosis does not turn on "when" a nicotine user gets hooked but when use rises to the level of becoming detrimental to health or life (with DSM standards giving scoring weight to such factors as: smoking more than intended, avoiding normal activities in order to smoke, continuing to smoke in the face of health concerns, failed quit attempts). It's now more widely accepted by dependency researchers that a significant percentage of new non-daily youth smokers become hooked prior to graduating to daily smoking.
Whether your brain commands you to smoke only one time every other day, or you sense wanting for nicotine 20 or more times a day, I'm afraid that so long as the wanting and urges are there and real, being a little bit hooked is like being a little bit pregnant. Whether a chipper or daily smoker, there was always only one rule to coming home and living here on the free side of the bars ... no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at a time, Never Take Another Puff, Dip or Chew!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
John (Gold x11)
Are Occasional Smokers a
An Exploratory Study
Nicotine Tobacco Research (2010) First published online: October 26, 2010
Sarah A. Edwards, M.H.Sc., Susan J. Bondy, M.Sc., Ph.D., Matthew Kowgier, M.Sc., Ph.D., Paul W. McDonald, M.A., Ph.D. and Joanna E. Cohen, M.H.Sc., Ph.D.
Background: Occasional smokers represent an important segment of all smokers and have been described to be a heterogeneous group in terms of past experience and likelihood of maintaining nondaily smoking behavior.
Methods: In the prospective Ontario Tobacco Survey, 408 occasional smokers were followed for a year. Characteristics of subgroups of occasional smokers, as suggested by previous literature, were studied for personal and smoking behavior group differences. Agglomerative hierarchical clustering was also used to empirically identify subgroups of occasional smokers using average linkage. Smoking status at 1-year follow-up was examined overall and by the identified subgroups to determine if any were useful predictors of persistent status as nondaily smoking and likelihood of smoking cessation.
Results: Significant differences were seen among the subgroups of occasional smokers suggested in previous studies including the number of quit attempts, setting a firm quit date, and whether or not participants cared others knew they smoked in descriptive analyses. Exploratory cluster analysis suggested 4 clusters of occasional smokers based on differences in age, perceived addiction, and history of daily smoking. Subgroups based on participants' history of smoking, self-reported addiction level, and empirically identified cluster subgroups resulted in significant differences of smoking status at 1-year follow-up.
Conclusions: This study suggests that occasional smokers may be a heterogeneous group with different subgroups characterized by age, accumulated smoking experience and smoking pattern, as well as factors associated with the likelihood of quitting altogether, over time, and perceived addiction.
PubMed Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20978108