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Is Rolling Tobacco Healthier than Cigarettes?

There is a very strong marketing effort by tobacco companies that try to identify rolling tobacco as a “natural” and therefore a safer product. This marketing fiction is not accurate.

What is in a “hand-rolled” cigarette? *

To make a hand-rolled cigarette a person needs rolling tobacco and cigarette papers. There are also mechanical devices that makes the process easier, so it is not necessary to roll a cigarette by hand and still use rolling tobacco.

The “supposed” benefits of using rolling tobacco to create “make-your-own” cigarettes are that the rolling tobacco contains less chemical additives than manufactured cigarettes. While this is true, the difference does not make the cigarettes made from rolling tobacco safe.

Smoking hand-rolled cigarettes introduces fewer chemicals into the lungs, yet still provides plenty of the toxins that cause cancer. A hand-rolled cigarette made from rolling tobacco does not contain the approximately 7,000 added chemicals in mass-produced cigarettes, of which 70 are carcinogens as noted by the American Cancer Society, yet it has about 40 carcinogens.

Rolling tobacco is supposed to be safe because it contains less of these chemical additives. Is that correct? Yes and no. Health Unlocked from the UK noted that so many people have the false belief that smoking cigarettes made from rolling tobacco is safer than manufactured cigarettes. In the UK, they call these cigarettes “rollies.” The companies marketing the rolling tobacco use words like “natural,” “organic,” and “no artificial additives”, to distinguish themselves from manufactured cigarettes.

Natural is Not Safe *

The real problem comes from using “natural” as a synonym for “safer.” This is completely false. There are so many natural things, which are so dangerous, and nothing about their natural state makes them any safer.

An example is the hemlock plant. Hemlock is a very beautiful plant. It is a very natural and a lovely looking plant, like tobacco. It is also very poisonous. One of the world’s greatest philosophers, Socrates, drank a tea made from hemlock, under a death sentence by order of the law for corrupting youth with his ideas. He died soon after drinking a cup of poison hemlock brew, which was a completely natural product.

There are fewer chemicals added to rolling tobacco. Nevertheless, the “natural” tobacco, which has not been processed to make a “smooth” smoking experience, contains vast amounts more of tar. Tar is the black, gunky substance that is like asphalt in the streets. It builds up in the lungs to block the lungs from working properly.

Tobacco is a poisonous plant, just like hemlock. It is not as strong of a poison as hemlock. Nevertheless, it is poisonous as well. The ingestion of the chemicals in the tobacco plant are like taking a dose of slow poison every time you do it. Tobacco leaves naturally contain nicotine, which, in concentrated forms, has a usage as a pesticide.

Excessive Tar From Rolling Tobacco Contributes to Higher Incidences of COPD *

The simplest way to describe how Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) happens is that the lungs are clogged up with tar junk and a person is no longer able to breathe properly.

Rolling tobacco has much more tar than manufactured cigarettes. From this perspective, smoking cigarettes made from rolling tobacco is more dangerous than smoking manufactured cigarettes. This happens because tar is more concentrated in rolled-cigarettes and no tar is captured by a filter when smoking rolled cigarettes.

If one observes a filtered cigarette that was smoked, the filter contains a dark brown substance that it captured. This is tar. Manufactured cigarettes with a filter, remove some of the tar. The reason for this is not a health concern by the tobacco companies; it is because tar tastes bad.

Tar is not addictive, like nicotine, and yet it ruins the smoke flavor. This is why manufactured cigarettes try to reduce tar with filters or disguise the flavor with menthol or other flavoring additives.

Nevertheless, tar is a very serious health risk. Livestrong gave a report on the ill effects of tar from cigarette smoking, which included:

  • Increased Emphysema – Emphysema is really bad. There is air in the lungs that needs to go out in order for new air with oxygen to come in. The tar clogs up this process. A person with emphysema is choking to death. They need oxygen supplementation just to be able to continue to live. On the advanced stages of the disease, they cannot do anything that a normal person can do. They cannot climb stairs. They cannot walk. They cannot get out of bed. They lay in bed choking to death because they cannot breathe. Eventually, they die. It is a horrible death.
  • More Heart Disease – When the lungs do not work properly, the heart does not work properly as well. The heart and the lungs are in a partnership. The lungs collect oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. The heart sends the blood to the lungs to pick up the life-sustaining oxygen, and get rid of the unnecessary carbon dioxide. This is the cycle of life. If the partnership and combined efforts of the heart and lungs start to fail because the lungs are full of black tar and stop working, then the whole body starts to fall apart.

Here is a Test to See if You Understand How Serious This is for You

The next time you go to the toilet, take a spoonful of what is in the bowl and intentionally swallow it. Thinking about this is super gross. However, your body can ingest waste from the toilet much easier that it can ingest poisons that you intentionally inhale from smoking. This is a disgusting example, but it makes a point.

When you start to understand this reality, you will get highly motivated to stop harming yourself. You will NOT believe that a “natural” product, like rolling tobacco, is a safer thing to smoke. Inhaling dense smoke from “natural” cigarettes is worse than manufactured ones. It is that simple.

Research Concerning Rolling Tobacco *

What do the scientific researchers say? In a study performed in the UK during 1998 concerning the yields from “roll-your-own” tobacco cigarettes, the study came to the following conclusions:

  • Tar yields from cigarettes made from rolling tobacco were 57% higher than the maximum limit of 15 milligrams for manufactured cigarettes.
  • Nicotine yields were 77% higher than manufactured cigarettes.

Natural Tobacco *

“Natural” cigarettes in this study were no better. In fact, because of the lack of filters, “natural” cigarettes were far worse, considering the amount of tar and nicotine they delivered to the smoker.

One study clearly pointed out the falsehood of using the exploitation of the terms of natural tobacco to sell the concept to the public as being less harmful.

Native American Tobacco *

Many cigarettes and tobacco products have marketing efforts now, as natural Native American products. The marketing message is the cigarettes made with organic tobacco with no additives are somehow superior. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is a marketing fraud. Native Americans traditionally use tobacco as a ritual ceremony, which has nothing to do with the modern practice of puffing away on cigarettes. Most Native Americans considered tobacco as a medicine for rare use on ceremonial occasions.

Tobacco and the sharing of the “peace” pipe was a sacred ritual, conducted with the greatest respect. Lack of records from the earlier historical period does not allow any conclusion about cancer rates in Native Americans prior to the European invasion. Contemporary statistics from the CDC of deaths from  smoking-related illnesses in Native Americans are very high and greater than the general population of Americans.

Here are a few of the most popular brands:

  • American Indian – Complete nonsense. This brand has nothing to due with Native Americans. These cigarettes are non-tobacco products and made from herbs, yet claim to be “sacred smokes.”
  • Natural American Spirit – These cigarettes and rolling tobacco are not healthy and not made by Native Americans. Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Company makes this brand, which is a division of R. J. Reynolds. R. J. Reynolds produces the popular brands of Winston, Vantage, Camel, Doral and more. There is absolutely nothing about the brand of Natural American Spirit that has anything whatsoever to do with Native Americans. This brand is a marketing ploy and a fraud and that is all.
  • Red Man – This is a purely exploitative, some would say bigoted, brand of smokeless tobacco made by Pinkerton Tobacco Company and has nothing whatsoever to do with Native Americans.

There are organizations that protest the misappropriation of Native American imagery that is used falsely to market product with the incorrect implication that Native American benefit somehow from the sale of these products. They have massive counter-advertising campaigns, under the banner of “Don’t Buy the Lie,” to raise consumer awareness that Native Americans do not make these products. Native Americans do not benefit from the sale of these products. Native Americans do not endorse these products at all.

This is simply another example of the exploitation by tobacco companies, with complete disregard for the truth.

Tax-Free, Lower Taxes, and Lower Prices Drive Consumer Behavior *

Already, consumers are switching to small cigars and roll-your-own tobacco products because of the high taxes on cigarettes sales. Because of the tax advantage status of cigarette and rolling tobacco purchased from Native American reservations, there has been an explosion of sale offerings from tobacco products on the Internet from those locations. These websites offer the “natural” tobacco products with no chemical additives along side with the manufactured tobacco products, sold at a discount.

Claradina Toya, who is a health education specialist based in Sacramento, California that works with Native Americans, reports that two out of five Native Americans now die from smoke-related illnesses. This is because they are smoking cigarettes in contemporary ways, which includes cigarettes made from rolling tobacco. What once was a sacred ritual for the Native American people is now a deadly habit.

Marketing Scams About the Safety of Natural Tobacco *

Because the marketing power of these scams was so great and there was much media and advertisement that supported the position, it is incredibly difficult for anyone to give an alternative opinion.

The marketing of Sherman cigarettes was as an “all-natural” cigarette, when first introduced to the market, because Mr. Sherman did not want to add the chemicals that everyone else added to cigarettes. He also made his first cigarettes to be like slim cigars. The “natural” Shermans came in a box instead of a pack and did not continue to burn when lit, unless someone was puffing on them. This is because Sherman did not add the chemicals necessary to keep the cigarettes burning by themselves. Many falsely assumed that the “natural” and pricier Sherman cigarettes were safer to smoke.

Sherman had a store on Fifth Avenue in New York. The NY elite bought his cigarettes and cigars for high prices thinking somehow that they were special. Then this trend expanded across the country. He made a fortune by claiming his cigarettes were “natural” and yet they were no safer than others were.

Summary *

Making cigarettes from rolling tobacco is not safer because the tobacco is “natural.” In fact, because the cigarettes are smoked without a filter they are more harmful. The tar levels are much higher. The addictive nicotine levels are higher. There are is no significant health benefit found in any of the scientific studies that show smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, made from rolling tobacco, is a safer thing to do.

In fact, this type of “natural” tobacco is more dangerous. Yes, it is true a cigarette made from rolling tobacco has less chemical additives than manufactured cigarettes, but this is offset by the heath risks caused by the lack of a filter to remove tar. Tar is not a major contributor to cancer; however, it is the major component in cigarette smoke that leads to increases in the diseases of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This includes diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

If a person wants to choke to death and not be able to breathe while dying, then smoking these “natural” hand-rolled cigarettes is even a faster way to achieve this tragedy, when compared to manufactured cigarettes. It is really a shame that many in the public have such strong misconceptions about rolling tobacco and it supposed safety.

The amount of misinformation is tragic and the tobacco companies are very involved in using the marketing message of “organic,” “all natural,”, “American Indian,” and other false associations to promote a product even more harmful than their other products. Do not buy these products and definitely do not smoke them, mistakenly thinking they are somehow safer.


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