Roll Your Own?

Are cigarettes that are rolled by hand any safer than pre-packaged cigarettes? It seems some people think so. At least, some smokers are rolling their own in a bid to cut back on smoking. After all, it takes more time to roll a cigarette by hand than it does to tip one out of a cigarette package.

Why People Choose To Roll Their Own Cigarettes

There are a few reasons why people are rolling their own cigarettes more and more these days, including the one mentioned above. Price, of course, is a factor. A pouch of tobacco and cigarette papers cost less than packaged cigarettes, including no-name brands. Cigarette companies have also gotten behind the concept that hand-rolled cigarettes are a "healthier" option for smokers, promoting them as a viable and healthier option. Even though hand-rolled cigarettes tend not to contain the huge amounts of chemicals that regular packaged cigarettes do, they really are not a safe alternative.

RYOs Allow In More Tar & Nicotine

Without a filter, the smoker inhales far more tar and nicotine than with regular cigarettes. In solid form, tar is a brown, tacky substance that can be seen left behind on the filter of a cigarette. It stains teeth and fingers and coats everything it contacts with a brownish-yellow film-including the lungs. Nicotine, also used as an insecticide, is a colorless, poisonous alkaloid that is addictive. Carbon monoxide is the gas produced from incomplete burning of carbon-containing fuels and is evident in burning cigarette tobacco. It is both colorless and odorless but highly dangerous as it reduces the ability of the blood to carry oxygen.

Since each hand-rolled cigarette is different, based upon the person rolling it, it is hard to tell exactly what the risk factor is for people who prefer to roll their own cigarettes. The amount of tobacco used varies; as does the length of time it takes for the person to smoke the cigarette.

Cancer Risk Increases With RYOs

There is also an increased risk of certain cancers for those who smoke hand-rolled cigarettes. Esophogeal cancer, cancer of the mouth, pharynx and larynx and lung cancer all occur more frequently in people roll their own cigarettes. Any of the oral cancers most commonly involve the tissue of the lips, tongue, cheek lining, gums and both the roof and floor of the mouth.

Between 70 and 80 percent of oral cancer cases are associated with smoking and other tobacco use. The smoke and heat from the cigarettes irritate the mucous membranes of the mouth causing fertile ground for cancer cells to propagate. About 50 percent of people with oral cancer can live more than five years after diagnosis and treatment and if it is caught early enough, and there's a 75 percent cure rate. Sadly, however, by the time most oral cancers are discovered they are well advanced and have spread to the throat and neck.

Even if pouch tobacco is additive-free, it still presents a very high risk of endangering the health of anyone who smokes it. There is no such thing as a "risk-free" cigarette, unless it remains unlit.