Rollie tobacco may seem more natural and fresh, but over 10% of a rollie pouch is chemical additives. Some of these additives make the toxic smoke feel less harmful than it really is and can cause further damage to your body.
This is the con that kills.
Roll-your-own tobacco contains at least as many additives by weight as the tobacco in tailor-made cigarettes.1-3
Additives in tobacco products make the toxic smoke feel less harmful than it really is. If the tobacco didn’t have additives in it, the toxic smoke would be so strong and harsh on the throat, few people could inhale it.4 Without the feeling of harshness, you get fewer immediate cues that the smoke is damaging your airways. It allows you to keep taking in lungfuls of cancer-causing chemicals.4
Some of the additives used in rollie tobacco include:
- Humectants: are added to make the tobacco moist and easier to roll. When they burn, some humectants produce toxic substances like acrolein and propylene oxide that can weaken your immune system, cause serious heart damage and disease, or cause cancer.5-7 More humectants are added to roll-your-own tobacco than to tailor-made cigarettes.1-3
- Sugars: are a part of the tobacco plant but when the tobacco is processed, more sugars are added. Sugars mask the harshness of the smoke.8 Once burned, many sugars change into chemicals that cause cancer.9
- Flavour additives: mask the true taste of the smoke.8 While most flavour additives are safe to eat, all the additives in tobacco are burned. Burning transforms many of them into toxic chemicals. The lungs are more likely to be damaged by these chemicals.10
- Menthol: a small amount of menthol is added to many varieties of tobacco,11 so menthol can be found even in cigarettes that do not taste like menthol. LEARN MORE about menthol here.
No matter what they do to it, you’re inhaling the same toxic poisons.
Even though roll-your-own tobacco might look and taste different from tailor-made cigarettes, you’re inhaling the same toxic poisons. This is because some
of the toxic poisons in cigarette smoke are created when the additives
are burned, and many of the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke are created when the tobacco is burned.12 So, it doesn’t matter what it tastes like or how it feels, all tobacco smoke contains over 200 toxic poisons.13-21
Escape the con
Roll-your-own tobacco is manipulated in ways that mask just how harsh and painful the toxic smoke really is. Without the feeling of harshness, you get fewer immediate cues that the smoke is damaging your airways. This allows you to keep taking lungfuls of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.
The best way to escape this con is to quit smoking. Find tips and support today.
Frequently asked questions
Is tobacco bad for the environment?
Yes, tobacco has a significant impact on the environment. From tobacco cultivation to curing, to manufacturing, distribution, consumption and litter, the global impact of smoking is extensive...
What about herbal cigarettes?
Herbal cigarettes are not safer than tobacco cigarettes. The smoke released from herbal cigarettes contains harmful substances that are also found in tobacco cigarettes. People who smoke herbal cigarettes expose themselves to dangerous levels of tar...
Do you know how many chemicals are in tobacco smoke and how they get there?
All tobacco products are harmful. Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 different chemicals. More than 200 of these chemicals are poisonous, released when the tobacco is burned. At least 69 are known to cause cancer. It doesn’t matter what tobacco product you use, or what the smoke tastes or feels like – all tobacco smoke is toxic to your body.
1. New Zealand Ministry of Health. Tobacco returns 2021. British American Tobacco New Zealand. Cigarettes, https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/bat-final_nz_return_cig_2021.pdf (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
2. New Zealand Ministry of Health. Tobacco returns 2021. British American Tobacco New Zealand. Cigarette tobacco, https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/bat-final_nz_return_cig_tob_2021.pdf (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
3. New Zealand Ministry of Health. Tobacco returns 2021. Philip Morris (New Zealand) Limited, https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/philip_morristobacco_return_2021.pdf (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
4. Winnall WR. 12.6 Additives and flavourings in tobacco products, https://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-12-tobacco-products/12-6-additives-and-flavourings-in-tobacco-products (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
5. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Additives in tobacco products: glycerol, www.rivm.nl/documenten/additives-in-tobacco-products-glycerol (2012, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
6. Henning RJ, Johnson GT, Coyle JP, et al. Acrolein can cause cardiovascular disease: a review. Cardiovasc Toxicol 2017; 17: 227-236.
7. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Volume 60: Some industrial chemicals. Propylene oxide., http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol60/mono60-69.pdf (1994, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
8. WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg). Report on the scientific basis of tobacco product regulation: seventh report of a WHO Study Group, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/329445/9789241210249-eng.pdf (2019, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
9. Talhout R, Opperhuizen A and van Amsterdam JG. Sugars as tobacco ingredient: effects on mainstream smoke composition. Food Chem Toxicol 2006; 44: 1789-1798.
10. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). Final opinion on additives used in tobacco products, http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/emerging/docs/scenihr_o_051.pdf (2016, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
11. WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg). Advisory note: Banning menthol in tobacco products, http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/205928/1/9789241510332_eng.pdf (2016, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
12. Winnall WR. 12.4 Emissions from tobacco products, https://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-12-tobacco-products/12-4-emissions-from-tobacco-products (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
13. National Toxicology Program. Report on carcinogens, 9th edition. 1999. US Department of Health and Human Services.
14. National Toxicology Program. Report on carcinogens, 15th edition. 2021. US Department of Health and Human Services.
15. National Toxicology Program. NTP Report on carcinogens background document for environmental tobacco smoke. 1998. US Department of Health and Human Services.
16. National Toxicology Program. NTP Report on carcinogens background document for tobacco smoking, Final March 1999. 1999. US Department of Health and Human Services.
17. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke: a report of the Surgeon General. 2006. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Biomonitoring Program. Tobacco., https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/tobacco.html (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
19. World Health Organization. The tobacco body, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-NMH-PND-19.1 (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
20. NIH National Cancer Institute. Harms of cigarette smoking and health benefits of quitting, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet#r1 (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
21. Australian Government Department of Health. What is smoking and tobacco?, https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/smoking-and-tobacco/about-smoking-and-tobacco/what-is-smoking-and-tobacco (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).