From the following sentence,

Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general.

Can we replace the bolded phrases with smoking cigarette? In what circumstances should we use these two?

  • Compare results in Google Books for Everyone knows that smoking cigarette is unhealthy with ..that smoking cigarettes is unhealthy. Also consider ...that cigarette smoking is unhealthy and that cigarettes smoking is unhealthy. Commented May 22, 2018 at 13:33
  • I would say that the first emphasises the potential harmfulness of cigarettes and the second emphasises the actual harm of smoking them. The first could be aimed at retailers and purchasers, the second could be aimed at, say, children in school.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 15:15
  • First, cigarette smoking is a noun compound and not a gerund. Second, *smoking cigarette is ungrammatical; it should be either smoking cigarettes or smoking a cigarette if you mean it to be a gerund referring to the activity, or a smoking cigarette if you mean it to be a noun phrase referring to a cigarette from which smoke is coming. Commented May 22, 2018 at 18:23

1 Answer 1


In "cigarette smoking", "cigarette" qualifies the verb (what are you smoking?) and thus is singular. You would write "smoking cigarettes" if you wanted to invert the words, as you would describe an activity and it takes more than one cigarette to reduce a smoker's health. But you could write "Smoking a cigarette no longer makes you look cool."

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