Measurement of cigarette relighting: A common but understudied behavior

William J. Young, Michelle Kennedy, Olivia A. Wackowski, Anna Mitarotondo, Maame Araba Assan, Daniel Scalia, Irina Stepanov, Michael B. Steinberg, Carolyn J. Heckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Relighting, i.e., extinguishing, saving, and later relighting and smoking unfinished cigarettes, appears prevalent, may be associated with nicotine dependence and negative health outcomes, yet is poorly understood. We estimate the prevalence, frequency, correlates of, and reasons for, cigarette relighting. Methods: Survey respondents (n=676) were 18–45-year-old US-based Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) participants who smoked cigarettes every/some days. Items assessed frequency of and reasons for relighting. Reported smoking sessions per day were compared to calculations based on reported cigarettes per day (CPD) and relighting frequency. Results: Seventy-two percent of those who smoked reported relighting cigarettes. Reasons included not having time to finish (77%), not feeling like finishing (75%), saving money or avoiding wasting (70%), and making cigarettes last longer (59%). Nearly half (44%) relight to cut down and 34% to reduce harm. Hispanic (OR=1.73, CI:1.03–2.91) and non-Hispanic Black respondents (OR= 2.23, CI:1.20–4.10) had higher odds of relighting than others, as did those who smoke within 30 minutes of waking (OR=2.45, CI:1.33–4.52) or wake up at night to smoke (OR=2.40, CI:1.68–3.44) (all ps <0.05). Respondents demonstrated low consistency in reporting the number of times they smoke (first-lit and relit) compared to calculations based on CPD and relighting frequency. Conclusions: Relighting is associated with race, ethnicity, nicotine dependence, and is often done to save money, cut down smoking, and reduce harm. Among those who relight, “smoking session” frequency seemed to be underestimated. Single item smoking frequency measures may not be ideal for individuals who smoke and relight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111257
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024


  • Cigarettes
  • Relighting
  • Smoking
  • Survey Research


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