A pioneering attempt at studying cigarette butts picked up from streets by George Thompson has linked the manner of smoking a cigarette to the person's standing in society, level of education and socio-economic background.
An insight by researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand analyzed how people smoked in the affluent and not so affluent suburbs. Nearly 3500 butts were picked up from six neighborhoods of both the low and high socio-economic areas.
The findings of the study which has been published in the international journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, found that people from the poorer suburbs tended to smoke cigarettes in a typical way which is closer to the butt of the cigarette. On the other hand smoking was different in the more affluent suburbs, leaving 75% more of unburned tobacco.
"The aim of the study was to see whether people from different socio-economic areas smoked different amounts of tobacco in each cigarette. In fact we did find that smokers in poorer areas smoked closer to the butt than those in wealthier areas ... Basically, poorer smokers have less money to burn," George Thompson said.
Usage of roll-your-owns cigarettes did not portray such a marked difference among the rich and poor.
According to Thomson, the study throws light on the requirement of intensive tobacco control programmes, needed to assist the poorer sections, as they had a tendency to take out the maximum from a cigarette without wasting any of the nicotine.
Co-author Nick Wilson said, "This study is about the real world of smoking behavior, and goes beyond just surveying smokers. It demonstrates what happens out on the street as a result of tobacco price policy and economic pressures."