, Volume 207, Issue 3, pp 343–363 | Cite as

Light and intermittent cigarette smokers: a review (1989–2009)

  • Chris R. E. Coggins
  • E. Lenn Murrelle
  • Richard A. Carchman
  • Christian Heidbreder



Growing proportions of smokers in the USA do not smoke everyday and can be referred to as light and intermittent smokers (LITS). Despite a current prevalence of LITS in the USA estimated at 25–33% of all smokers, a systematic review of the literature on this group of smokers has yet to be written.


The aim of this paper is to review and evaluate research on LITS and to identify, describe and discuss commonalities and differences between LITS and daily smokers.


The primary databases used to search for publications were Pub Med (National Library of Medicine) and SCOPUS (Elsevier).


LITS inhale smoke and have post-smoking blood nicotine concentrations that are broadly equivalent to those found in daily smokers. However, LITS differ from daily smokers with regard to cigarette consumption and frequency of cigarette use, sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics, motives, personality traits, dependence, withdrawal and craving, response to smoking-related cues, quitting perception, past-smoking status, and initiation.


In contrast to daily smokers, LITS show few or no signs of dependence as currently defined by DSM-IV criteria, appear to exercise more self-control, seem to be less impulsive, and their smoking experience is primarily associated with positive rather than negative reinforcement. Conclusions drawn from the reviewed literature highlight the multivariate factors that must be taken into account when defining LITS and emphasize the importance of further research on this increasing fraction of smokers. The potential implications of increased LITS prevalence on smoking-related disease risks remain to be thoroughly investigated.


Binge drinking Chippers Epidemiology Health risk Low-frequency smoking Nicotine Nicotine dependence Non-daily smoking Personality traits 



blood alcohol curve


Biphasic Alcohol Effects Scale


California Health Interview Survey


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Cigarette Dependence Scale


cigarettes per day


cigarettes per month


cigarettes per week


carbon monoxide


California Tobacco Survey


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders


Ecological Momentary Assessment


flow-mediated vasodilatation


Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence


Fagerström Tolerance Questionnaire


Hooked on Nicotine Checklist


light and intermittent smokers


nicotine dependence syndrome scale


nicotine dependence syndrome scale-total


National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions


National Health Interview Survey


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


Questionnaire on Smoking Urges


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris R. E. Coggins
    • 1
  • E. Lenn Murrelle
    • 2
    • 3
  • Richard A. Carchman
    • 4
  • Christian Heidbreder
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Carson Watts ConsultingKingUSA
  2. 2.Research, Development & EngineeringAltria Client ServicesRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Venebio Group LLCVirginia Bio-Technology Research ParkRichmondUSA
  4. 4.Virginia Bio-Technology Research ParkStatSolvers LLCRichmondUSA
  5. 5.Reckitt Benckiser PharmaceuticalsRichmondUSA

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