In the early 2000s, researchers from the University of Auckland found that young people who smoked regular cigarettes had lower levels of inflammation in their arteries and were more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
But it turns out they were also much less likely to smoke regular cigarettes.
The findings have now been backed up by a series of studies, which show that regular smoking can actually increase the risk of heart disease.
The study looked at the health of 1,000 teenagers in Auckland who had a regular cigarette habit.
It found that those who were regular smokers had more than double the risk for heart disease compared to those who had stopped smoking.
The researchers say they believe that if we can reduce the exposure of young people to cigarettes, the health risks could be reduced.
But, it is not clear how much they can reduce, given that they only looked at a small sample.
Dr Michael Siegel from the Auckland University’s School of Public Health says the results are important for smokers who want to quit smoking, but the researchers are still unsure about what the long-term impact would be on the health outcomes of regular smokers.
“The most important thing for smokers to remember is to do your best to quit at a young age, that’s the key, so that you can avoid having any cardiovascular problems later in life,” he said.
“We don’t know how long that’s going to last, but we know that it’s very important.”
Regular smokers were found to have a lower risk of developing heart disease, but had an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and death.
It is possible to quit cigarettes but not all smokers do so.
Dr Siegel says the new research should encourage more people to quit regular cigarettes, especially for those who are not yet at a point in their lives when they need to start.
“It’s a real shame that people who are already smoking don’t have the best of odds,” he says.
“But we’re going to need to find a way to reduce the risk and reduce the impact of cigarette smoking.”
Regular cigarettes are not harmful to your health if you quit them regularly.
However, smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Even if you don’t smoke cigarettes, they’re still the most common cause of death in young people in the United States,” Dr Sieg said.
He says the number of young adults who have had a heart attack has tripled in the last two decades.
Dr Juhani Hukumili from the National Cancer Institute says more research is needed to better understand the effects of regular smoking on the heart and lungs.
“People who quit regularly have a better chance of survival, but there’s also a higher risk of other complications from heart disease,” he explained.
“Regular smokers should consider taking up a smoking cessation program, especially if they’re already at a high risk.”
The researchers hope that their research will help inform the future of smoking in New Zealand.
They also want to see studies of people who have quit and found that the number who started regular smoking had not changed over time.