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More Smokers Relighting, A Result Of Economy [AUDIO]

In New Jersey, there has been a dramatic cut in services available for people to get help in quitting smoking and with the tough economy, many former smokers have picked up the habit once again.

(Flickr User ninasaurusrex)
(Flickr User ninasaurusrex)

But, an increasing number of smokers have started a new habit. They are inhaling fewer cigarettes a day, but saving the butts and relighting them later on.

“All of the trends we’ve been seeing of smoking declining over the past several decades have flattened out and in some cases, we’ve seen increases in smoking among certain populations,” said Dr. Michael Steinberg, Director of the UMDNJ Tobacco Dependence Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Smoking is not the kind of condition that you give up and it’s gone. It’s a chronic condition and it stays with you for years and years.”

More Smokers ‘Relighting’ Used Cigarettes

“When faced with a difficult situation, like economic stress or work-related stress, going back to smoking which has been a crutch for so many years, is a big problem.”

Of nearly 500 patients seeking treatment for tobacco dependence at UMDNJ, 46 percent admitted relighting cigarettes. The group smoked on average, fewer cigarettes a day than the group that did not relight.

“People who relight their cigarettes multiple times per cigarette tend to have a higher risk of lung cancer and chronic bronchitis,” said Steinberg. “Even though they were smoking fewer cigarettes per day, their exhaled carbon monoxide were the same or even higher. They might be getting even more toxins exposed over that same period of time.”

People who put the butt out and relight tend to inhale more deeply and smoke more of the cigarette than they normally would.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen economic problems drive people to this butting out and relighting behavior at the same time economic issues have eliminated all of the tobacco treatment resources that New Jersey used to be famous for,” said Steinberg.

What’s a Smoker to Do?

“The first thing to do is make a decision to stop smoking. Know you’re addicted and take steps to seek treatment. There are still services available. People can speak to their heath care providers to receive treatment which can include medications and nicotine replacements. People should not get discouraged. They shouldn’t give up.”

“There is help out there. It’s important for people to stay on top of their commitment to not smoke and to seek out help if they start to waiver in that commitment,” said Dr. Steinberg.

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