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Roll up cigarettes

They aren't a healthier alternative - there is no healthy alternative


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Smoking isn't a cheap habit. In fact, it can cost quite a lot to buy cigarettes so some smokers prefer to roll their own. These cigarettes are known as 'rollies' or 'roll-ups' and have become increasingly popular.

The facts on rollies

There is a perception that smoking rollies is not as bad for you as smoking regular cigarettes. However this is false as rollies contain the same amount of chemicals that regular cigarettes do.

They’re often seen as being a healthier and cheaper version of cigarettes, but the fact is that roll-up cigarettes contain 7,000 toxic chemicals. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and poisonous.

Here are just a selection of the chemicals that make all tobacco products toxic when smoked:

  • Formaldehyde: Highly poisonous and used to preserve dead bodies.
  • Ammonia: Found in strong cleaning fluids.
  • Benzene: Used as a solvent in fuel.
  • Cyanide: An industrial pollutant.
  • Arsenic: A deadly poison found in insecticides.

The problem with rollies

Researchers have found that rollies can be often worse for you than smoking regular cigarettes. Here’s why:

  • No Filters: A lot of smokers don't use a filter when making rollies so their lungs become the filter instead. That means they end up inhaling more tar than they would while smoking regular cigarettes.
  • Even when they do use filters, smokers still put a lot of pressure on their lungs. If they feel like they're not getting enough nicotine they'll smoke more or take deeper puffs to up their nicotine levels. It’s also important to note that filters don’t reduce the carbon monoxide absorbed by the body.
  • Higher levels of nicotine and cancer causing chemicals: Research shows that the levels of nicotine, tar and cancer-causing chemicals inhaled through rollies are often higher than those from bought cigarettes.
  • Due to the higher levels of nicotine, they can in fact be more addictive than regular cigarettes.
  • Rollies are more likely to cause mouth, throat and lung cancer as well as lung diseases such as emphysema and heart disease.
  • They’re cheaper so people smoke more: There is the danger that because rollies are cheaper that many people end up smoking more than they normally would.

Benefits of quitting

Whether it's rollies or traditional cigarettes, the health benefits start right away when you quit smoking:

  • Straight away, you will have fresher breath, hair and clothes-smoking is smelly.
  • Straight away, you will have more money in your pocket.
  • Within 20 minutes blood pressure and pulse rate begin to return to normal and circulation will improve.
  • Within 1 day your carbon monoxide level in your blood will drop and the oxygen level will go up.
  • Within 2 days you will have a better sense of taste and smell.
  • Within 3 days you will feel fitter and less breathless.
  • Within one year the risk of sudden death from a heart attack is almost cut in half. Your risk of cancer is also reduced.

Get help and support to QUIT smoking

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Published September 29th, 2014
Last updated March 30th, 2017
Tags smoking health addiction
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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