Sorry, gals, but scientists are onto the fact that you don’t, like, buy cigarettes but you maybe bum them every once in a while but only when you’re out drinking and you never even really hold it, you just take a puff of your friend’s. And they say it’s still bad for you.

Time reports on a new study in Preventing Chronic Disease, by researchers out of UT Austin. They were curious about findings suggesting casual smoking—as opposed to the pack-a-day heavy smoking of yore—is growing. So they crunched numbers from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, specifically from thousands of women 18 to 25. They found:

27% of all people in the study—and 62% of the current smokers—identified as very light smokers, a habit of five or fewer cigarettes a day. It also can mean skipping smoking some days, then picking up a cigarette every so often. In fact, this kind of casual smoking—what many people often refer to as “only smoking when drunk”—has become predominant, particularly because of its perceived lack of health effects, the study authors note. Many light smokers consider smoking “only once in a while” as not harmful; while they understood smoking to be risky, the authors write, they did not consider the risk as high as non-smokers.

Interestingly, a specific group of women emerged as “light” and “very light” smokers: 18- to 20-year-old single women with some college education.

That worries researchers because hey, still not good for you. The researchers also worry that “Social features of college life, including weekend partying, may promote smoking at a very light level among college women,” and “Emotional distress and multiple substance misuse may serve to both initiate and maintain very light smoking.” Don’t it just make you nostalgic for undergrad?


Contact the author at kelly@jezebel.com.

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