Background: Roll-your-own (RYO) cigarettes have increased in popularity, yet their comparative potential toxicity is uncertain. This study compares smoking of RYO and factory-made (FM) cigarettes on smoking pattern and immediate potential toxicity.
Methods: At a research clinic, 26 RYO and 22 FM volunteer male cigarette smokers, (addicted and overnight-tobacco-abstinent) each smoked 4 filter cigarettes, one half-hourly over 2 hours, either RYO or FM according to usual habit, using the CReSSMicro flowmeter. First cigarette smoked was their own brand. Subsequent cigarettes, all Holiday regular brand, were RYOs (0.5 g tobacco with filter), or FM with filter. Cravings on 100 mm visual analogue scale, and exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) were measured before and after each cigarette smoked.
Results: Smokers reported similar daily cigarette consumption (RYO 19.0, FM 17.4, p = 0.45), and similar time after waking to first cigarette. (RYO 6.1 minutes, FM 8.6 minutes, p = 0.113). First cigarette's RYO tobacco (0.45 g) weighed less than for FM (0.7 g, p < 0.001); less tobacco was burnt (0.36 g, FM 0.55 g, p < 0.001) but smoking patterns were no different. RYO smokers smoked subsequent cigarettes more intensively; inhaled 28% more smoke per cigarette (RYO 952 mL, FM 743 mL, p = 0.025); took 25% more puffs (RYO 16.9, FM 13.6, p = 0.035); puffed longer (RYO 28 seconds, FM 22 seconds, p = 0.012), taking similar puffs (RYO 57 mL, FM 59 mL). Over four cigarettes, RYOs boosted alveolar CO (RYO 13.8 ppm, FM 13.8 ppm), and reduced cravings (RYO 53%, FM 52%) no differently from FM cigarettes.
Conclusion: In these smokers, RYO smoking was associated with increased smoke exposure per cigarette, and similar CO breath levels, and even with filters is apparently no less and possibly more dangerous than FM smoking. Specific package warnings should warn of RYO smoking's true risk. RYOs are currently taxed much less than FM cigarettes in most countries; similar harm merits similar excise per cigarette.