Views & Reviews Personal View

Roll your own cigarettes are less natural and at least as harmful as factory rolled tobacco

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f7616 (Published 11 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:f7616
  1. Richard Edwards, professor of public health, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. richard.edwards{at}otago.ac.nz

Poorer smokers may favour “roll your own” and many falsely believe that use of loose tobacco is less dangerous than factory made cigarettes, writes Richard Edwards. Specific interventions may be needed to encourage such smokers to quit

The Wise-Up to Roll-Ups campaign in the south west of England has brought to the fore a facet of tobacco smoking that receives far less attention than it should.1 The campaign publicised that some aspects of use of roll your own (RYO) tobacco merit particular concern.

The most common reason (over 80% in most studies) given for smoking RYO cigarettes is that they are cheaper.2 3 Indeed, even when the price per weight of tobacco is similar for RYO and factory made cigarettes, smokers of RYO cigarettes can potentially keep smoking and maintain sufficient nicotine intake by rolling thinner cigarettes. This may help smokers to continue to smoke despite rising tobacco taxes, undermining this key tobacco control intervention.

A perception that could encourage the use of loose tobacco and discourage quitting is that RYO cigarettes might be considered to be more “natural” and less of a health hazard than pre-rolled cigarettes. For example, in Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, between …

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