Tob Control 17:i17-i23 doi:10.1136/tc.2007.021824
  • Supplement

The feasibility of measuring puffing behaviour in roll-your-own cigarette smokers

  1. L Shahab1,
  2. R West1,
  3. A McNeill2
  1. 1
    Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2
    Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Lion Shahab, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 2–16 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK; lion.shahab{at}
  • Received 18 May 2007
  • Accepted 11 October 2007


Background/objective: Despite the increase in roll-your-own (RYO) cigarette consumption in many countries, very little is known about RYO smokers. In order to estimate the health risks inherent in RYO use, it is important to assess exposure to tobacco toxins in this group. Exposure is determined by a number of factors, including puffing behaviour, but so far this issue has not been addressed among RYO smokers. This study sought both to determine the feasibility of measuring puffing behaviour in this group, its reliability and validity, and to characterise puffing behaviour among RYO smokers compared with smokers of factory-made (FM) cigarettes.

Methods: At two visits, 24 hours apart, 131 FM and 29 RYO cigarette smokers provided saliva samples that were assayed for cotinine, a measure of nicotine intake and thus smoke exposure. Self-reported puffing behaviour of participants, as well as their demographic and smoking characteristics were also assessed. At the end of the first visit, smokers were shown how to use a portable smoking topography machine that measures puffing behaviour, the CReSSmicro, and asked to smoke all cigarettes with this machine until the second visit, when participants were asked to provide feedback on using the device.

Results: Both RYO and FM cigarette smokers reported that the CReSSmicro was easy to use; however, RYO cigarette smokers were more likely to have missing data, to reduce cigarette consumption and to indicate a change in their puffing behaviour because of the device. Machine-determined puffing behaviour was equally stable over time in both groups with similar ability to predict exposure; cotinine levels were related to machine but not to self-reported puffing parameters. Overall, RYO smokers appeared to puff cigarettes less hard but for longer than FM cigarette smokers.

Conclusion: The measurement of puffing behaviour using a topography device is feasible but less practicable for RYO than FM cigarette smokers. Puffing parameters show comparable reliability and validity for both groups of smokers and reveal some differences in smoking topography dependent on the type of cigarette smoked.


  • Contributors: LS, RW and AMcN participated in the conception, analysis and interpretation of the above paper. AMcN developed the overall study and LS and AMcN carried it out. LS wrote the manuscript and RW and AMcN were involved in revisions of the original manuscript.

  • Funding: This study was funded by the Department of Health for England and the Roswell Park Trans-disciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC–P50 CA111236) who had no involvement in any aspect of the design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, the writing of the report or the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests: RW undertakes research and consultancy for developers and manufacturers of smoking cessation treatments such as nicotine replacement products. LS has received an honorarium for a talk and travel expenses from a pharmaceutical company making smoking cessation products.

  • Ethics approval: This study was approved by the University College London Ethics Committee.

Free sample

This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of Tobacco Control.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

This insightful video is produced by Cancer Research UK

Navigate This Article