Are roll-up cigarettes better than regular cigarettes?
They aren’t a healthier alternative
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
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.
Are rollies less harmful than cigarettes?
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, and are often worse for you.
They’re often seen as being a less harmful 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 are a few reasons why rollies are bad for your health.
A lot of smokers don’t use a filter when making rollies, so their lungs become the filter instead. That means you end up inhaling more tar than you would while smoking regular cigarettes.
Even if you do use filters, smoking still puts a lot of pressure on your lungs. It’s also important to note that filters don’t reduce the carbon monoxide absorbed by the body.
Levels of nicotine and chemicals
Research shows that there are higher levels of nicotine, tar, and cancer causing chemicals cancer-causing chemicals in rollies than those from bought cigarettes.
Due to these higher levels of nicotine, they can in fact be more addictive than regular cigarettes, and worse for your mental health.
Rollies are more likely to cause mouth, throat and lung cancer as well as lung diseases such as emphysema and heart disease.
Number of rollies smoked
Roll-ups are cheaper than a box of cigarettes, so people smoke more. There is the danger that many people end up smoking more than they normally would.
Benefits of quitting smoking
Whether it’s rollies or traditional cigarettes, the health benefits start right away when you quit smoking:
- Within 20 minutes blood pressure and pulse rate begin to return to normal and circulation will improve
- Within 2 hours the level of nicotine in the body will have dropped about 50%
- 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 a few months your anxiety, depression or stress levels can improve. The improved levels of oxygen in the body means that ex-smokers can concentrate better.
- 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
- Talk to your GP or pharmacist.
- Visit Quit.ie for tips on how to stop smoking.
- Call the Quitline on Freephone 1800 201 203 to talk to someone who understands and can help you quit.
- Head to the Quit.ie Facebook page to read stories from others who have quit smoking and to share your own.
- Check out SpunOut’s articles about giving up cigarettes.
Disclaimer: There is more than one way to quit smoking. You may need to try a few different things to find what is right for you. For advice and support on quitting, visit SpunOut.ie/QUIT