Relighting cigarettes more prevalent in difficult economic times

| March 20, 2013

Researchers at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, US, have found that a trend of smokers relighting cigarettes is related to economic factors, according to a Science Daily story.

The results of the study by the researchers were given at a poster presentation during the 19th Annual Meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco held last week in Boston.

The story said that ‘in these difficult economic times’ increasing numbers of smokers were smoking fewer cigarettes per day but were relighting the end portion of the cigarette that is typically discarded.

Investigators explored this behaviour among a cross-sectional sample of 496 smokers seeking treatment from the Tobacco Dependence Program (TDP).

The researchers found that 46 per cent of the sample reported relighting cigarettes. This group was found to smoke on average fewer cigarettes per day – 16 versus 20 – than the group that did not relight.

Science Daily said that while a reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked per day might sound positive, there was more to the story, according to Michael Steinberg, MD, MPH, FACP, a member of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and director of the TDP, who was the senior author of the research.

“Despite those engaging in the relighting practice smoking fewer cigarettes, there is no estimated reduction in their exposure to toxins,” Steinberg was quoted as saying. “In fact, smokers who relight cigarettes may be at higher risk of lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. That is something of which policy makers need to be aware.”

Significantly higher rates of relighting were found among females, African-Americans, and smokers who were divorced, widowed or separated. The behavior was more prevalent also among smokers who started at a younger age, smoked fewer cigarettes per day, smoked menthol cigarettes and woke up at night to smoke. Other factors significantly related to relighting included being unemployed, sick or disabled, or having a high school degree or less.

“While the relighting of cigarettes is a relatively unexplored smoking behavior, it was anticipated that certain economic characteristics, such as lower education and lack of employment, would be related to a higher level of relighting,” said Steinberg.

“We were, however, surprised that women are more likely to engage in this practice than men. This needs further study.”

The practice of relighting cigarettes is thought to have implications for tobacco dependence treatment.

Category: Breaking News

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