Over 3 Million “non-smoking” Brits Admit To Enjoying The Occasional Cigarette

30 June 2011

Over 1.3 million “social smokers” are tempted to have the odd cigarette as a result of drinking alcohol or by their “smoking friends” (1)

New research(1) by Sainsbury’s Life Insurance(2) reveals that there are some 3.02 million Brits who class themselves as “non-smokers”, but admit to having the occasional cigarette or having a “puff” of someone else’s cigarette.

Earlier this year the supermarket bank revealed(3) that around 6.5 million life insurance policy holders gave up smoking more than 12 months ago and haven’t used nicotine replacement products in the past year, therefore could be eligible to be classified as non-smokers by a life insurance provider and save themselves on average, 46% less on their premiums(4).

David Cook, Sainsbury’s Life Insurance Manager said: “It’s interesting quite how many Brits regard themselves as non-smokers but are in fact social smokers. We’d urge anyone who finds themselves in this camp to go that extra inch and fully kick their habit.

“If someone classes themselves as a non-smoker when taking out a life insurance policy, but in fact is having the occasional cigarette whilst in a social situation or to help combat stress, they need to ask themselves whether their ‘non-smoking status’ is really valid.  To qualify as a non-smoker and to receive cheaper life insurance premiums, someone has to have been nicotine-free for 12 months.”

The research reveals that many so-called non-smokers are indeed “social smokers” who are  tempted into breaking their non-smoking habit with the odd cigarette because they’ve been drinking alcohol (31%) or have been tempted by other smoking friends (13%) or are letting their hair down whilst on holiday (12%).

Table of the primary reason given by “non-smokers” for having a cigarette

Reason given for being tempted to have a cigarette   Number of “non-smokers” who cite this as their primary reason
Have been drinking alcohol 31% (951,000)
Helps to relieve stress 19% (580,000)
Tempted by smoking friends 13% (386,000)
On holiday 12% (367,000)
Special occasion (eg Christmas, birthday, wedding) 7% (214,000)
Enjoy the taste 4% (135,000)
Doesn’t do me any harm / lasting damage 4% (126,000)


The primary reason cited for relapsing into having a cigarette differs across the age groups, with the over-45s being much more likely to claim that their occasional cigarette is to help them relieve stress, compared to the under-35s who predominantly say that alcohol has contributed to their uncharacteristic smoking.

The research also indicated that one in five smokers (3.27 million Brits) could potentially reduce their life insurance premiums if they were to give up smoking. Apart from the obvious savings you can make from not buying cigarettes, your life insurance premium could decrease as you are demonstrating that you’ve made efforts towards living a healthier lifestyle.

Sainsbury’s Finance’s life insurance premiums start from as little as £5 a month (which is 16p per day) (2) and are among the most competitive available, regularly appearing in best-buy tables.

When you know what cover you require, please contact Sainsbury’s Finance for a quote or further information on 0800 027 7166 (calls may be monitored and recorded). Further information is also available at or at Sainsbury’s supermarkets. Sainsbury’s Finance does not offer financial advice.

For further information, please contact:
Ian Morris/Sarah Rowan
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
020 7638 9571

Notes to Editors:
(1) ICM interviewed a random sample of 2027 adults aged 18+ via online between 21st and 24th April 2011.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted (grossed-up) to the profile of all adults (over 18s).  ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Further information at
(2) Sainsbury’s Finance Life Cover (Level Term Assurance and Mortgage Decreasing Term Assurance) is provided by Legal & General Assurance Society Limited. The cost of life cover will depend on the customer’s age, term of the policy, options selected and state of health.
(3) Opinium research conducted among 1864 adults, 6th-7th January 2011
(4) Moneyfacts was commissioned to review whole of market life insurance premiums (level term only) for 38 different risk profiles in October 2010.
Sainsbury’s Finance:
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