Are Some Smokers Actually Healthy?

So, Are Some Smokers Actually Healthy?
I am curious…As a wellness professional, do you consider someone who smokes to be healthy, asked a member of our Wellness Manager Discussion Group.

That simple question stirred up quite a debate among the wellness professionals.

What started the debate was a recent blog post on reported on a British workforce survey where 42 percent of the regular smokers reported they were healthy or very healthy.

“That depends on whether you consider health the absence of immediate illness.

However that is a far cry from optimal health and responsible self-management,” said a veteran wellness professional.

“My vote would be that someone who smokes who thinks he or she is “very healthy” (and possibly even “healthy”) is simply showing that they aren’t close to ready to quit,” replied an expert in disease management.

I think most people agree that balance is healthy, said a member who runs a state wellness program. “However, there is no such thing as a “healthy balance” with tobacco,” she said. “There is no study that supports a little of tobacco in balance is ok and healthy.”

“There is no documented “safe or healthy” dose of tobacco. Furthermore, all people who smoke DO actually suffer ill effects from smoking. The ill effects may not develop into any official diagnosis or disease state in every smoker, but the ill effects most certainly happen as soon as the nicotine, smoke, carbon monoxide, and other carcinogenic chemicals absorb into tissues and blood,” she observed.

She noted that physical changes with arteries constricting and nicotine binding to receptors in brain happen within seconds of inhalation. “Just because you can’t see a person’s health decline on the inside and can’t have a diagnosis linked to smoking as the cause does not mean that a little smoking falls in the healthy category—even for the casual intermittent smoker.”

There is a quality of life issue too- sure maybe some won’t ever get a disease or die from smoking but the quality of their health will decline over time and they simply won’t feel as good as a nonsmoker, she wrote.

“I believe “some” could certainly be healthy and may even stay healthy over the long-term. A lot of health promotion is, to use a veterinarian term, “herd medicine.”

“Our recommendations and interventions come out of what is MOST likely to happen MOST of the time when a certain behavior is practiced. But just like someone who drinks alcohol could be healthy, or eats Big Macs could be healthy, refuses to wear their seat belts may never be in an accident, etc., so too could someone who smokes be the exception that makes the rule,” responded another long-time wellness and health promotion professional.

“BRAVO!! I agree!!” replied another member. “I have been successful entering this field because I don’t obsess. Employees “fear” the wellness professional that is policing their every move I am real and don’t expect our employees to be perfect. Obsession is not the equivalent to health. Balance is key. I am an example without being a treat.”

There were many more discussion posts and observations among the more than 1,500 members.

But to get back to the question – said another member “Absolutely not! 🙂

The Wellness Manager Discussion group for professionals is sponsored by the Wellness Management Information Center and Wellness It is free and hosted on Yahoo.

It is easy to join just enter your email address. Visit:


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