From the Cancer Institute of New Jersey:

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:

“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,” he notes.

From Oxford Academic:

Given that previous research has indicated that relighting cigarettes leads to increased harm, the public health implications of this smoking practice are discussed.

Sadly, I do not have permission to access the Oxford article.

From a seemingly unofficial source on Quora:

When you relight a cigarette, you're breathing coal. Read about breathing coal & black lungs. If you're going to relight a cigarette it is desirable to sever the burnt end of the cigarette to remove the burnt coal. The relighting of the burnt coal causes marginally higher incidence of lung cancer compared with people who use a "cigarette snipper" (or just small scissors).

From another Quora post:

There are some simple physical truths here.

  1. The last few drags of a cigarette contain far more tar, as the tar from the first half has partially condensed and saturated the butt.
  2. There are also a lot of other toxic chemicals that do the same thing.
  3. Also, most of the horrible stuff in cigs is worse once it becomes oxidized (burnt.)

Although most online sources suggest, "Yes, relighting cigarettes is worse for your health", the official sources don't explain how.

The unofficial sources do conjure some possibilities, I would prefer documentation that's a bit more official.


What is the set of health concerns to consider when relighting a cigarette, compared to smoking a full never-been-lit-before cigarette? I'd assume the set would contain all the concerns of smoking in general, but what deviations exist?

  • The first Quora quote is utter nonsense. Whoever wrote that doesn't know what coal and black lung disease are. The second Quora quote is correct but doesn't address relighting. I'm extremely skeptical that relighting makes any difference whatsoever. – Carey Gregory Mar 18 '18 at 22:40
  • Here's an observational study that has citations you might find useful. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5270767 – Carey Gregory Mar 18 '18 at 22:53
  • Are they comparing relighters to people who smoke the same inches of cigarettes but throw away twice as much, or to people who smoke the same inches but less frequently (one at a time instead of half at a time)? I think any discussion of mechanisms can only grow from compared to what which is not in these excerpts. – Kate Gregory Mar 19 '18 at 16:48

This appears to be from a very old study

The rate of chronic bronchitis among relighters (39·7%) was higher than the rate (32·9%) among the remaining cigarette smokers. The difference was of high statistical significance (P<0·001), and the same pattern was maintained when age and consumption were standardized. After allowing for a trend towards lower social class and a preference for plain as opposed to filter cigarettes the rate of chronic bronchitis among relighters was about 15% greater than that of the remaining cigarette smokers.


And there doesn't appear to be any subsequent study that replicates the findings rendering the findings preliminary.

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  • Although this furthers the argument that relighting increases chances of bronchitis, this source doesn't give any attention to how relighting increases harm, even if it's a quote from a professional stating that there are no current findings suggesting why. I upvoted, but want to wait for other submissions before deciding on accepted. Thanks for the research, much appreciated. – Vince Emigh Mar 18 '18 at 19:08
  • As I said it appears this study is being quoted even though the results have not been replicated. So, until it's actually been shown to be a real effect there isn't much point in trying to establish a mechanism. – Graham Chiu Mar 18 '18 at 19:10
  • 2
    I would hazard a guess and say it's because poorer people tend to relight, and we know socioeconomic status is inversely related to respiratory health. – Graham Chiu Mar 18 '18 at 19:11
  • I agree it's probably socioeconomic status rather than relighting itself; plus, as a former smoker I think relighting also indicates a more addicted smoker. – Carey Gregory Mar 18 '18 at 23:26

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