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September 10, 2001

Other

Question from London, United Kingdom:

I was diagnosed with type�1 diabetes about nine months ago, and I've been trying to give up smoking. For 15 years, I smoked more than 20 a day, and, so far I've 'given them up' for over two-and-a-half months. However, I have a stressful job (club DJ) where I'm surrounded by smokers, and the odd cigarette helps me to get through moments of tension. I have smoked two cigars me to get through moments of tension. I have smoked two cigarettes since I officially 'quit', and I don't find that this increases my urge to smoke the next day. I appreciate that as medical professionals you are obligated to tell me (and others reading this post) to stop smoking permanently forever. What risks do I run by smoking an occasional cigarette (perhaps 10 a year, given my intake so far)?

Answer:

If you really mean not more than 10-15 cigarettes a year, this is not heavily harmful for your diabetes even though I have to remind you that your cumulative risk for vascular complications (macro and microvascular ones) would be smaller if you never smoke. That said, what is most difficult is to stick to so few cigarettes over the years and not to increase the number.

MS

[Editor’s comment: Congratulations on quitting smoking! Minor relapses such as the ones you describe are common, and need to be addressed proactively, or you’ll slide back into the same old ways. Try some tricks to help you stay safely off the nicotine: such as keeping a sign nearby that only you can see (unless you’re really courageous!) that says “Don’t light one up: I’m getting enough cigarette smoke already from the second-hand smoke those other addicts are putting into the air!”

WWQ]