These light smokers don’t always perceive the health risks of smoking as being applicable to them, which is possibly one of the reasons why light smoking has increased among them, the authors believe. There are many reasons ranging from depression to mental distress that people turn to light smoking, but just like any other kind of smoking, it comes with a heavy set of health risks.

The new study, published in Preventing Chronic Disease of the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), revealed that about 62% of the current smokers among the participants were very light smokers, and about 71% reported to be nondaily smokers.

But it appears that casual, or “very light” smoking, might actually be increasing – and particularly among young women, according to a new study out of the University of Texas at Austin.

Some people may become light smokers because they can’t afford to buy a lot of cigarettes, the researchers said. Still enough to keep the habit, but not enough to consider themselves a heavy smoker. Factors behind opting for the habit in this age group include college life and weekend party. The prevalence of smoking and average cigarette smoking has decreased; however, the number of individuals engaged in very light smoking has shot up. Women were more into very light smoking in comparison to heavy or daily smoking. Indeed, young people often feel invincible and smoking an occasional cigarette may seem harmless, when in reality that’s not the case.

The findings from our study have implications for research and practice.

In conclusion, the researchers said there is a need to watch over the trend of very light smoking among young women.

“Making very light smokers aware that even small amounts of tobacco are harmful would be important”, study researcher Carole Holahan, of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin, told Live Science. Further, as with other smokers, interventions with very light smokers need to address issues of psychological maladjustment and substance misuse.

Even light smoking can carry health risks; very light smoking is linked with heart and lung problems, and an increased risk of cancer.

Never smokers were associated with lesser reports of lifetime depressive symptoms and past psychological burden than very light smokers, and are less likely to binge drink or resort to the use of illicit drugs.

“The tobacco industry developed campaigns to appeal to young women smokers”, the researcher noted. People in this group may be less likely to identify themselves as smokers, but also more likely to recognize the high risks in smoking, the researchers said.