In these difficult economic times, increasing numbers of smokers have been smoking fewer cigarettes per day but are relighting the end portion of the cigarette that is typically discarded.
Investigators explored this behaviour, examining a cross-sectional sample of 496 smokers seeking treatment from the Tobacco Dependence Program.
Researchers found that 46 percent of the sample reported relighting cigarettes.
This group smoked on an average, fewer cigarettes per day - 16 versus 20 - than the group that did not relight.
According to Michael Steinberg, MD, MPH, FACP, a member of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and director of the Tobacco Dependence Program, who is the senior author of the research, said that a reduction in the amount of cigarettes smoked per day may sound positive, but there is more to the story.
"Despite those engaging in the relighting practice smoking fewer cigarettes, there is no estimated reduction in their exposure to toxins," Steinberg said.
"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.
"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," Steinberg added.