Dual Use of Tobacco Products
When you cut down on cigarettes—by adding another tobacco product—you may feel that you’re improving your health. This is called “dual use.” It is not an effective way to fully safeguard your health, whether you’re using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), smokeless tobacco, or other tobacco products in addition to regular cigarettes. Quitting smoking completely is very important to protect your health. Smoking even a few cigarettes a day can be dangerous.
- Smoking just five cigarettes a day doubles your risk of dying from heart disease.
- Just cutting back on cigarettes may not protect you from an early death. Heavy smokers who reduce their cigarette use by half still have a very high risk for early death. And on average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.
- Social smokers – people who do not smoke cigarettes on a daily basis but who smoke in certain social situations on a regular basis – can harm their cardiovascular system. Social smokers have similar blood pressure and cholesterol levels of people who smoke regularly.4
- When you quit smoking completely, you begin to reduce your heart disease risk right away. Your risk is cut in half 1 year after quitting and continues to drop over time.
- People who quit smoking completely live longer than those who keep smoking. The earlier you quit, the lower your risk for early death. Even quitting at age 50 cuts your risk in half for early death from a smoking-related disease.
Today in the United States, there are more former cigarette smokers than current cigarette smokers.9 It often takes several tries to quit smoking. Using proven quitting methods, such as medications and counseling, can double your chances for success.
FDA has approved the following seven medicines as safe and effective to help smokers quit:
- Five types of nicotine replacement therapy
- Nasal spray*Available without a prescription
- Two non-nicotine medications
- Bupropion (marketed as Wellbutrin and Zyban)
- Varenicline (marketed as Chantix)
Individual, group, and telephone counseling have also been found to be effective in helping smokers quit. While cessation counseling and FDA-approved cessation medications are each effective alone, they are even more effective when used in combination.
Cessation counseling is available free through state quitlines. Quit-smoking medications may be available free or at a discount through state quitlines, various types of health insurance, health plans, or clinics. State Medicaid programs cover quit-smoking treatments. While the coverage varies by state, all states cover some treatments for at least some Medicaid enrollees.
Whether or not you use a stop-smoking medicine to help you quit, people who reach out for help are more likely to succeed than those who go it alone. Help is available in the Quit Guide on this Web site and by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers). Quitline coaches can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support for your smokefree life.
- Bjartveit K, Tverdal A. Health Consequences of Smoking 1-4 Cigarettes Per Day. Tobacco Control 2005;14(5):315–20 [accessed 2018 Mar 22].
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2018 Mar 22].
- Tverdal A, Bjartveit K. Health Consequences of Reduced Daily Cigarette Consumption. Tobacco Control 2006;15(6):472–80 [accessed 2018 Mar 22].
- Gawlik KS, Melnyk BM, Tan A. An epidemiological study of population health reveals social smoking as a major cardiovascular risk factor. Am J Health Promot. 2017 Jan 1:890117117706420. doi: 10.1177/0890117117706420. [Epub ahead of print].
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Are the Benefits of Quitting Smoking? [accessed 2018 Mar 22]
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2018 Mar 22].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quitting Smoking [last reviewed 2017 Dec 11; accessed 2018 Mar 22].
- National Cancer Institute. Harms of Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting [last reviewed 2074 Dec 19; accessed 2018 Mar 22].
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, Executive Summary. [PDF – 2.14MB] Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2018 Mar 22].
On this Page
At age 33, Kristy, a heavy smoker and mother of three, tried using e-cigarettes as a way to cut back on cigarette smoking, but she continued to smoke regular cigarettes. Eventually, she stopped using e-cigarettes, went back to smoking only cigarettes, and later had a collapsed lung.
“I could never get completely off regular cigarettes until I wound up in the hospital.”
- Page last reviewed: March 22, 2018
- Page last updated: July 26, 2018
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