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Instead, they are filled with herbs or flowers and come in varieties like menthol, ginseng or rum. Herbal cigarettes are not addictive because of the lack of nicotine, so they are often regarded as a stop-smoking aid.
You can use them as you would a regular cigarette while you wean yourself off the smoking habit. Nicotine is not the only dangerous substance in cigarettes. Cigarette smoke contains tar and other toxins, and herbal cigarettes also generate tar, carbon monoxide and other toxic materials as they burn. You do not get addicted to herbal cigarettes, but you face health risks from the toxins for as long as you continue to smoke them.
Herbal cigarettes are supposed to be made from natural ingredients, but some brands contain synthetic cannabinoids that are very similar to THC, the active substance in marijuana, Dr. Smokers who do not realize this can get an unexpected high and experience medical problems like vomiting and seizures. These cigarettes also cause psychological effects like agitation, anxiety and hallucinations.
Herbal cigarettes do not contain any substances regulated by the federal government, so they are legal for sale to minors in most states. Herbal cigarettes expose youngsters to health risks and may increase their chances of moving on to tobacco cigarettes.
Many herbal cigarette brands have products with flavors that appeal to minors, like vanilla and cherry. These herbal varieties may act as a gateway product, enticing users to sample regular cigarettes and opening them up to an eventual nicotine addiction. Cigarettes are a leading cause of household fires, according to the U.
Fire Administration, killing about 1, people every year. But their biggest selling point is that they're supposed to be a healthy alternative to "real" cigarettes. As one online merchant of natural tobacco and clove cigarettes put it, "Gotta smoke? Smoke smart! But despite this marketing ploy, alternative cigarettes are NOT safe.
In fact, some are considerably more dangerous than normal cigarettes. Among the most popular types of alternative cigarettes are bidi, herbal, and clove cigarettes, all of which are especially popular with young people. Here's a close-up look at their risks:.
Usually imported from India and Southeast Asia, bidis are small, hand-rolled cigarettes made with dark tobacco wrapped tightly in a dried tendu leaf. They look somewhat like marijuana joints and are available in just about every artificial flavor imaginable, including root beer, mango, chocolate, and cherry. Why so cheap? According to the U. Customs Service, some manufacturers rely on child slave laborers to roll the cigarettes.
Exotic look, candy-like flavors, low cost -- it's not hard to guess whom bidis are really trying to attract. A study of Boston-area high school students, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 40 percent had tried bidis and 16 percent smoked them regularly. A nationwide survey conducted by the CDC in found that 2. Unfortunately, these pleasant-tasting "herbal" cigarettes are more dangerous than tobacco cigarettes.
For one thing, smokers inhale about 2 to 3 times more tar and nicotine than they would if they smoked regular cigarettes, according to the March issue of Public Health. And since tendu leaves don't burn as easily as paper, bidi smokers have to inhale deeply and often just to keep the things lit. As a result, toxins and cancer-causing compounds found in the smoke may end up deep in their lungs.
Yet in a survey of bidis sold in San Francisco, conducted by the SF Tobacco Free Project, 67 percent of the bidi packets lacked a required health warning. Jennifer Williams, the American Lung Association's former director of tobacco control for the central California coast, says that high schoolers are often shocked to learn how bidis are made. This has a big effect on the kids.
They're upset that kids are abused in order to produce this product. Another unsavory bit of information that Williams shares: "The tobacco used for bidis is often stored in large, rat-infested warehouses, and the tobacco doesn't get cleaned. Basically, it's full of rodent feces and who knows what else.
Bidis are still widely available in many parts of the nation, but a crackdown has begun. Several states -- including Illinois, Vermont and West Virginia -- completely ban the sale of bidis. State attorneys general have called for a ban on the imported cigarettes, pointing out that online sellers of bidis do nothing to verify whether the purchasers are minors.
In one state-run sting operation, children as young as 9 successfully purchased bidis over the telephone using a toll-free number provided by a Web site. Herbal cigarettes are tobacco-free and nicotine-free, but they are far from risk-free. Herbal Gold cigarettes are a prime example.
They look exactly like regular cigarettes and come in different flavors including menthol, cherry, and vanilla. Because they don't contain tobacco, they can be sold legally to smokers of any age. Herbal Gold cigarettes contain a blend of herbs including marshmallow the plant, not the hot chocolate topping , passion flower, jasmine, and ginseng. These herbs are staples of health-food stores, and they're generally safe -- until they're set on fire. According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission FTC , Herbal Gold and other herbal cigarettes produce many of the same toxins found in tobacco smoke, including tar and carbon monoxide.
In April , the commission ordered the makers of Herbal Gold as well as another herbal cigarette manufacturer to add the following warning to all packages: "Herbal cigarettes are dangerous to your health.
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