A new study has shown that factory-rolled cigarettes maybe the lesser of two evils.
The Christchurch-based study compared people smoking factory-rolled cigarettes to those smoking roll-your-owns and found that smokers tended to suck rollies more intensively, more often and more efficiently, making them at least as deadly as factory-rolled cigarettes.
The study, led by public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen , is the first to use people rather than smoking machines to compare the two types of cigarettes.
It compared 26 men who smoked rollies with 22 who smoked factory-rolled. Each smoked a filtered cigarette every half hour over two hours, according to usual habit.
Cravings and exhaled carbon monoxide were measured before and after each cigarette smoked.
It found that participants smoking rollies took 25 percent more puffs per cigarette and generally puffed for six seconds longer per cigarette.
Both types of cigarette boosted the level of carbon monoxide, measured in exhaled breath, by the same amount.
The study found that while the amount of tobacco used in rollies was less, the pattern of smoking - particularly for cigarettes later in the day - resulted in increased inhalation of tobacco smoke.
"Roll-your-own smokers inhale more to get the most value from their cigarettes and don't let so much be wasted, while smokers of factory-made cigarettes let a lot of their smoke drift into the air," Dr Laugesen said.
Dr Laugesen said the research dispelled the belief some smokers had in thinking rollies were safer because they used less tobacco, or had less additives, or because they used a filter.
"Instead, we find that using less tobacco actually means more smoke inhaled. Roll-your-owns contain more additives than factory-made cigarettes, not less, and using less tobacco in the roll-your-own cigarette means more smoke is inhaled, not less."
Dr Laugesen believed New Zealand's tobacco excise tax approach, levied by tobacco content rather than per cigarette, encouraged smokers to hand-roll thin cigarettes and pay less tax, making them the cheaper option.
"The tax rate per smoke should be equalised. Equal harm deserves equal tax."