Cigarette relighting: A series of pilot studies investigating a common yet understudied smoking behavior

Carolyn J. Heckman, Olivia A. Wackowski, Rohit Mukherjee, Dorothy K. Hatsukami, Irina Stepanov, Cristine D. Delnevo, Michael B. Steinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The act of extinguishing, saving, and later relighting unfinished cigarettes is a common yet understudied behavior that may have implications for tobacco treatment and health. Methods: This paper presents four pilot studies investigating various aspects of this topic: (1) the prevalence of relighting among NJ and NY Quitline callers (n = 20,984); (2) the prevalence and correlates of relighting in two national surveys (n = 1008, n = 1018); (3) a within-subject (n = 16) laboratory experiment comparing cigarettes smoked per day and exhaled carbon monoxide when relighting and not relighting cigarettes; and (4) a national survey of tobacco treatment providers’ (n = 150) perceptions of relighting. Results: Relighting was found to be common (approximately 45% of smokers), and associated with lower socioeconomic status, heavier smoking and nicotine dependence, greater smoking-related concerns, as well as high levels of exhaled carbon monoxide. Providers noted the potential importance of relighting but reported that they do not regularly incorporate it into their assessment or tobacco treatment planning. Conclusions: These findings address a major research gap in the emerging research on this common behavior. Future research is needed to better understand the potential implications of relighting for policies and clinical practices related to tobacco cessation and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6494
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Rutgers Cancer Prevention and Control Program, 2019 Pilot Award, and the National Cancer Institute, grant numbers R03CA175901, R37CA222002, and P30CA072720.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cigarettes
  • Relighting
  • Smoking


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