I’ve never been a smoker, but I’ve met a number of people who’ve asked me whether or not smoking is “allowed” on a vegan diet. There’s a lot of debate about this topic since cigarettes technically aren’t food.
Also, many people think that they’re automatically vegan since they’re just a plant. That’s not the whole story, though…
So, are cigarettes vegan?
Although cigarettes are plant-based, the majority of big-name cigarettes are NOT vegan. This is because many cigarettes are tested on animals prior to being sold to the general public. Additionally, some tobacco brands also use animal by-products to produce each pack of cigarettes.
Below, I’ll answer some of the most relevant questions on this topic, and show you exactly why most cigarettes aren’t vegan. Take a look!
Do Cigarettes Contain Animal Products?
If you look at your average cigarette, it looks pretty simple. At first glance, it just looks like a foam filter, a paper wrapper, and some dried, shredded tobacco. However, cigarette companies also add in tons of extra additives that you’d never expect to find.
This is why a niche market for organic cigarettes has been slowly developing throughout America.
Knowledge of these extra additives is somewhat hard to come by, though. By law, cigarette companies aren’t required to disclose the extra additives they use. Since they technically aren’t a food product, they don’t have to list all of the ingredients used in their product.
Surprisingly, though, many cigarettes DO contain animal products!
Here’s a list of the most common animal-derived ingredients used by tobacco companies in their cigarettes:
|Animal Ingredients In Cigarettes||What They Are|
|Castoreum||This odd ingredient is actually derived from the “castor sacs” of mature male beavers. These sacs contain the beavers’ scent pheromones. To obtain it, beavers are raised in captivity and bred for this fluid. This ingredient is sometimes added to cigarettes to make them more aromatic and better smelling.|
|Honey||Although honey is a natural product, most vegans don’t consume honey because it’s obtained from captive honey bees. Like castoreum, honey is sometimes added to cigarettes and sweet tobacco products to give the cigs a smoother, sweeter taste.|
|White Beeswax||White beeswax is often used as a natural “glue” to seal the cigarette paper together. Unfortunately, like honey, white beeswax is not considered vegan. In fact, there are no vegan products produced by bees (or any other bugs, for that matter). Beeswax is stolen from bee colonies that need it to form their hive structure, build homes, and raise their young. Using it for our own selfish needs is therefore unethical|
|Milk Solids||I have no idea why milk solids (dried milk fat) would be used in cigarettes. However, it’s listed as a commonly used additive used by major tobacco companies. The only thing that I can think of is that it’s used to coat the paper and give the paper a smoother texture.|
Although those are the most commonly used animal ingredients, cigarettes literally contain hundreds of extra added ingredients. While some are natural herbs and oils added for flavor, most of them are artificial chemicals and compounds.
In fact, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has an entire list of the animal ingredients found in cigarettes. There are right around six hundred additives that are used in cigarettes.
Now, each cigarette doesn’t contain all of these additives at once. But, you’d better believe that each “cancer stick” you’re smoking may contain up to a hundred of these additives on any given day.
Simply put, you’re not just putting tobacco in your lungs; you’re putting a whole lot of other mystery ingredients in your system as well.
Many doctors think that this is why today’s cigarettes are so much more deadly and cancerous than the natural hand-rolled cigarettes that old-time cowboys used to smoke every day.
Fun Fact: Did you know that cigarette smoke contains seventy carcinogenic ingredients that are documented to cause cancer?
Are Cigarettes Tested On Animals?
Aside from the odd animal ingredients that are often used in cigarettes, most large tobacco companies test their cigarettes on animals. This is where things get really messed up…
Captive animals are placed in cages all day and hooked up to respirators where they’re forcibly fed cigarette smoke for hours at a time. Often, these animals are forced to consume the equivalent of up to a hundred cigarettes worth of smoke on a daily basis.
Aside from the pure cruelty of being force-fed smoke, this creates severe addiction within the fragile brain and bodies of the captive animals. Plus, most of these animals quite literally die from all of the cigarette smoke. Within a few months, the majority of them develop tumors or die of a heart attack.
Why Do Companies Test Cigarettes On Animals?
The idea of testing cigarettes on animals is so that tobacco companies can study the long-term effects of their products on humans. This allows them to see which additives are “okay” and which ones should be avoided.
This literally makes no sense.
We already know that cigarettes cause cancer. We already know that tobacco addiction can cause heart attacks. We already know that cigarettes are unhealthy!
So, why do companies continue to test their products on animals? What are they trying to prove? Cigarettes have never been (and will never be) healthy. So, there’s absolutely no justification for this cruel and unusual treatment.
Is Tobacco Vegan?
Although the majority of cigarettes aren’t vegan, tobacco is just a plant.
By itself, tobacco is vegan-friendly.
It’s a simple psychoactive plant that grows out of the ground, making it just as vegan-friendly as cannabis, lettuce, or cabbage. The problem isn’t the plant itself, it’s the fact that cigarette companies take the plant, fill it with additives, and then test it on animals.
So, when vegans ask me about smoking, I always tell them, “You can still smoke tobacco; just don’t buy mainstream cigarettes.”
For example, you can buy your own bags of organic shredded tobacco and roll your own handmade cigarettes using organic wrappers. Or you can go really old-school and smoke tobacco out of a wooden pipe!
You can also purchase herbal vaporizers that “bake” the tobacco in a small ceramic chamber, releasing the nicotine without actually burning the tobacco.
Are Cigars Vegan?
Hand-rolled cigars are usually vegan, since they’re made by hand and sold directly to consumers. However, the cheap cigarillos you’ll find in your local gas station are probably tested on animals.
Cigars take a lot of time and money to produce. They’re made from pure tobacco and never contain any added ingredients (unless otherwise stated on the packaging). It’s one of the purest ways to consume tobacco, as it’s truly a “farm to table” product.
Just stay away from those processed one-dollar cigarillos and cheap tobacco wraps. Many of those contain tons of added ingredients (many of which are from animals) and are likely tested on animals as well.
Is Vaping Vegan-Friendly?
So, what about vaping tobacco?
Vaping nicotine is generally considered vegan. Although it’s certainly not “healthy,” it’s relatively harmless to the environment. The nicotine is directly extracted from tobacco before being added to a synthetically-derived vape juice, which contains no animal products whatsoever.
Just make sure that you responsibly dispose of your vaping device, refill cartridges, and batteries, as those can all be environmentally harmful if they end up in the soil or our waterways.
The Verdict – Do Vegans Smoke Cigarettes?
Most vegans don’t smoke cigarettes. The few vegans that do smoke cigarettes typically only purchase organic, cruelty-free cigarettes or roll their own cigarettes using rolling papers and organic tobacco.
A growing number of vegans are also trying the “straight edge” vegan diet. This diet is just like regular veganism but requires you to be 100% sober at the same time.
There’s no alcohol, tobacco, or any other psychoactive compounds allowed on this diet. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, keep on reading about the vegan straight edge diet here!