Updated 06 November 2018

Other types of tobacco, alternatives

Other tobacco products are gaining popularity worldwide – often in the mistaken belief that they’re less dangerous.

Although standard cigarettes are the most commonly used type of smoked tobacco, other tobacco products are gaining popularity worldwide – often in the mistaken belief that they’re less dangerous. 

But all forms of tobacco are lethal. Smoked tobacco in any form causes up to 90% of all lung cancers and is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Smokeless tobacco is also highly addictive and causes cancer of the head and neck, oesophagus and pancreas, as well as many oral diseases, and hand-rolled cigarettes are no safer than commercial cigarettes.

The following products contain tobacco or extracts of tobacco leaves (e.g. nicotine), and are considered dangerous:

• Cigarettes (including “light”, “mild”, “low-tar”, “menthol” and “natural” cigarettes)

• Cigarellos (blunts, cheroots)

• Cigars

• Pipes

• Water pipes (hookahs, hubbly bubblies, okka pipes)

• Bidis (flavoured cigarettes)

• Kreteks (clove cigarettes)

• Smokeless tobacco

• Chewing tobacco

• Snus

• Snuff

• Electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes)

E-cigarettes are considered dangerous because they haven’t yet been properly studied. Scientists don’t yet fully understand their risks and how many harmful chemicals they contain. It’s therefore also recommended to steer clear of these smoking devices.

Remember: there is no safe form of tobacco.

Reviewed by Cape Town-based general practitioner, Dr Dalia Hack. October 2018.


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