Question: Are Roll Your Own Cigarettes A "Healthier" Smoking Choice?
Do you know whether it's really any better or worse to smoke hand-rolled cigarettes? My son has taken up rolling his own cigarettes as a method of cutting back on his smoking and the harmful chemicals that are in regular filtered cigarettes. He thinks smoking hand-rolled cigarettes is a healthier choice, but I'm not so sure.
Answer: Roll your own (RYO) cigarettes appeal to young smokers for some of the same reasons your son voiced:
A pouch of rolling tobacco and cigarette papers is much cheaper than buying brand name cigarettes - or even the generic cigarettes marketed today.
A More Natural Smoking Choice
People often think that smoking RYO cigarettes is a "healthier" smoking choice, an attitude that is encouraged by tobacco advertising as well. While RYO cigarettes don't contain the thousands of chemical compounds regular cigarettes do, they're not a safe alternative either. The lack of a filter on this kind of cigarette means the smoker is inhaling more tar than with regular cigarettes.
To Smoke Less
Because smoking a hand-rolled cigarette involves rolling it first, smokers tend to light up less often than with traditional filtered cigarettes.
In solid form, tar is the brown, tacky substance that is left behind on the end of the cigarette filter. It stains a smoker's teeth and fingers brown and coats everything it touches with a brownish-yellow film. As mentioned above, hand-rolled cigarettes lack filters, which means more tar reaches delicate lung tissue.
Nicotine is a colorless, poisonous alkaloid, derived from the tobacco plant and used as an insecticide. Nicotine is addictive and poisonous.
Carbon monoxide(CO)is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced as a result of incomplete burning of carbon-containing fuels. Exposure to CO reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Cigarette smoke can contain high levels of CO.
The bottom line is this: the only "safe" cigarette is an unlit one. RYO cigarettes are no different; they endanger the health of anyone who smokes them.
As parents, we are the single most influential factor in our children's lives. Let your son know how serious the risks of smoking are for his health and remind him often. Your input may help him quit sooner than he might have otherwise.
- De Stefani, E et al. Hand-rolled cigarette smoking and risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx Cancer 1992 Aug 1;70(3):679-82
Tuyns, AJ, Esteve, J. Pipe, commercial and hand-rolled cigarette smoking in oesophageal cancer International Journal of Epidemiology 1983 Mar;12(1):110-3