Social Smoking


‘Only when I drink’, ‘Only on weekends,’ social smoker, light smoker… Any of these sound like you?

Partying and drinking play a big role in starting to smoke, continuing to smoke and increasing the amount that you smoke.


“I started smoking in social settings in high school. I smoke significantly more when partying and around others who are drinking/smoking. Whenever I try to quit I usually start back up again when out drinking.”


If you don’t smoke at parties, don’t start now.

Research shows that using alcohol and marijuana increases your odds of starting to smoke cigarettes, shisha (hookah), vapes and little cigars/cigarillos.1


“Partying influences my tobacco use a lot. I started smoking with friends at parties and it kept on going. Whenever I’m out partying I’d smoke significantly more than say during the day. I had quit smoking once for about 18 months and then at this party we were drinking and a friend brought his shisha and we all smoked. So, there…”


If you smoke when you socialize, recognize that you could easily become a full-time, addicted smoker.

According to research, 80% of social smokers can’t quit when they want to and many continue smoking long-term.2-5


“I smoke occasionally on the weekends when I am drinking more. partying and being with people that smoke a lot, but I do not buy any cigarettes products though.”


If you think hookah, little cigars and cigarillos are safer than cigarettes, you may be mistaken.

Almost all statements about the safety of these products are based on myths, rumours, half-truths, illusions and company sales-pitches – not reputable, trustworthy, objective evidence. Know the facts and make informed choices!


1 hour hookah session = smoking 5 packs of cigarettes


Not inhaling? Doesn’t matter. Cigars and cigarillos are still as harmful as cigarettes (plus eventually your teeth could fall out!).


All the flavours are a marvel, but vapes are still harmful. Just less harmful than smoking.


Chew/snus may be smoke-free, but low risk ≠ no risk.


Natural and (soon-to-be) legal. What’s the harm? Marijuana smoke contains 33 known carcinogens.


It’s helpful to think through what you’re doing and where you might be tempted to party with the smoke so that you can make a plan to party without the smoke. Keeping busy and having distractions are strategies that really work. Here are some ideas to keep you distracted when you’re ready to party:


Switch to water right after that first drink, especially if people are smoking; drink plenty of water

Alcohol is often considered a necessity for partying but the choice is yours. Drinking too much too fast? There are safer ways to drink.
Try spacing your drinks with water, getting up and moving around and carrying a non-alcohol beverage in your hand. Too much, too often may have unintended results and it may interfere with your attempts to quit smoking.


Dance to your favourite songs


Strike up conversations


Ask non-smoking friends to distract you when other people light up or use tobacco


Try to get into the DJ booth


Chew on a mint, gum, or hard candy


Use the money you would have spent on cigarettes or other tobacco products for post-party snacks (Mmmm…Burritos)





  1. Cohn, A., Villanti, A., Richardson, A., Rath, J.M., Williams, V., Stanton, C., & Mermelstein, R. (2015). The Association between Alcohol, Marijuana Use, and New and Emerging Tobacco Products in a Young Adult Population. Addictive Behaviours, 48, 79-88.
  2. Tindle, H. & Shiffman, S. (2011). Smoking cessation behavior among intermittent smokers versus daily smokers. American Journal of Public Health, 101 (7), e1-e3.
  3. McDermott, L., Dobson, A., & Owen, N. (2007). Occasional Tobacco Use among Young Adult Women: A Longitudinal Analysis of Smoking Transitions. Tobacco Control, 16, 248-254.
  4. Riggs, N. R., Chou, C. P., Li, C., & Pentz, M.A. (2007). Adolescent to Emerging Adulthood Smoking Trajectories: When do Smoking Trajectories Diverge, and do they Predict Early Adulthood Nicotine Dependence? Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 9 (11), 1147‐1154.
  5. Wetter, D.W., Kenford, S.L., Welsch, S.K., & Smith, S.S. (2004). Prevalence and Predictors of Transitions in Smoking Behaviour among College Students. Health Psychology, 23 (2), 168-177.