Hard times mean relighting tossed cigarettes

A study finds cash-strapped people who smoke leftovers consume fewer cigarettes but may be taking greater health risks.

By Jason Notte Mar 27, 2013 10:17AM
Credit: © Vicente Alfonso/Getty Images
Caption: A hand and a cigaretteSo how bad did the recession get for cigarette smokers? Apparently bad enough to pick up any stray cigarette butt they came across and relight it.

Living every day like a lyric from Roger Miller's "King of the Road" -- "I smoke old stogies I have found / short but not too big around" -- 46% of smokers in a new study reported relighting cigarette butts in an effort to save cash during a tough economy. Conducted by The Tobacco Dependence Program at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the study found that relighters smoked fewer cigarettes a day than those who didn't (16 instead of 20). But women, African-Americans and smokers who are divorced, widowed or separated were more likely to relight than their counterparts.

They were also no less likely to avoid some of the nastier effects of cigarette smoking. Doctors conducting the study say relighters may be at higher risk of developing lung cancer or chronic bronchitis.

While the study aimed to determine how to medicate people with these behaviors when they seek treatment and how to counsel those who want to break such habits, it's also a warning that such small cutbacks in tobacco use aren't necessarily better for those making them.

Beyond the unclean element, the stuff concentrated into the butt end of those castoffs can be just as unpleasant. Earlier this month, for example, cigarillo makers disclosed that their filters commonly contain a gritty gray substance known as sepiolite. Americans know it best as a primary ingredient in kitty litter.

Those filters the relighters are sucking on for a second time also contain a dissolving pulp similar to rayon. That's not only a key element of those tacky Hawaiian shirts from the 1980s, but it's also found in flat-screen TVs, paint thickeners and diapers.

So what makes people do this? The study indicates that this behavior is more prevalent among smokers who started at a younger age, have fewer cigarettes per day, smoke menthol cigarettes and wake up at night to smoke. More important, having a high school degree or less and being unemployed, sick or disabled are the ties that bind folks scouring ashtrays for butts.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 27, 2013 11:43AM
I smoked for over 30 years. I finally was able to quit, but not because of health reasons. I quit, because I realized how much smoking was really costing me. Where I live, a pack of Camels cost $8.34 per pack. I smoke generally 1 1/2 packs a day. So, I was spending about $12.50 per day, which adds up to around $375.00 per month, which is my cable bill, phone bill and most of my electric bill combined.......I ended up, putting that money in a savings account. After two years, I was juist shy of $9500.00 bucks. Enough for one Helluva Vacation! with plenty left over for emergencies. 
Mar 27, 2013 11:24AM
Stopped (never say you quit) smoking 8 years ago after smoking for 38 years.  Didn't stop for health reasons, I stopped for the financial impact.  At the time, I was putting out a $10 bill for two packs and getting a dollar and change back.  Did INDIVIDUAL hypnotism (you have to believe in it). the hypnotist took my pack of cigarettes and lighter before the first session.  One of the tools she advised me to do was take a fishbowl and every week place the money I would have spent on cigs and in it.  After a year and half, I bought a new Toro recycler lawn mower and a full set of Mizuno golf sticks (clubs).
Mar 27, 2013 1:08PM

Smoking cigarette butts, using dirty hypodermic needles: Same mindset, different addictions.

Mar 27, 2013 11:24AM
first it was alcohol now smoking if they were really in there for you heath they have the salt and high fructose corn syrup, and sugar removed. the sugar that not really sugar and salt kill more people together then smoking. I think that alcohols kills more people then smoking.  But we are here for you.ROFLMA. Just a way to raise taxes on something they did not like. wont raise tax on beer, they know that people that want it well make it just not that hard. Why are they not on the frutose and sugar salt ban- wagon.
Mar 27, 2013 12:17PM
They probably found out what the cheap health care was really going to cost them.
Mar 27, 2013 1:16PM
They should try rolling their own cigarettes, much cheaper.

Look at the third paragraph - I didn't know lung cancer could be contracted.
Mar 28, 2013 3:18PM
Mar 28, 2013 3:11PM




Mar 27, 2013 10:48AM
I don't even enjoy smoking.  I just do it because it makes me look cool.
Mar 27, 2013 12:40PM

I think the Article is about, but ONE THING..?

It's unhealthy to pick up a used ciggie butt and smoke it...

Plus no doubt, bad for most people to smoke...Bad for them.


Bums have been doing this, before the Depression...Look how healthy they are ?? sic, sic..

And now we have a new class of bums...

Mar 27, 2013 11:50AM

"Having a high school degree or less and being unemployed, sick or disabled are the ties that bind folks scouring ashtrays for butts."


I suppose now the government will be issuing cigarette stamps to help the uneducated, poor, disabled and sick folks get their fix. 

Mar 29, 2013 2:49AM
You did a study on the health of people too poor to afford cigarettes?  Seriously, how fked in the head are you morons?
Mar 27, 2013 11:03AM
This article is talking about the right wing posters here.
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