Roll up, roll up! (If you want a stroke and impotence)
LATEST figures show that nearly 70 per cent of city smokers choose to smoke 'rollies' – with one in four believing it is less harmful than smoking tailor-made cigarettes.
The figures, from a survey carried out by the local NHS Stop Smoking Service, showed that 68 per cent of smokers in Plymouth smoke hand-rolled tobacco, above the regional average of 60 per cent.
Beverley Desborough, a specialist stop smoking practitioner for Public Health Plymouth, said: "We have a massive issue in the South West, including Plymouth, with the biggest problem being that one in four believe smoking hand-rolled tobacco is more natural because it contains less chemicals.
"People seem to think that smoking hand-rolled tobacco is herbal, like there are no additives in it and it's better for you. But we know that there are over 4,000 chemicals in a hand-rolled cigarette, just as there is in a tailor-made cigarette. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette."
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Manufactured cigarettes undergo tests to show their 'smoke yields'. These figures indicate the amount of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels for each brand.
Nicotine and tar yields are actually higher in roll-ups than in most ordinary cigarettes – and many people who smoke roll-ups do not use a filter, so they end up inhaling more tar and nicotine.
"We believe we have a high number of people smoking hand-rolled tobacco in the city because it goes hand in hand with deprivation, of which we have large pockets in Plymouth, and hand-rolled cigarettes are cheaper than tailor-mades," said Beverley.
The Stop Smoking Service also sees a lot of younger people choosing to smoke hand-rolled tobacco, again, largely due to the cost.
Trying to dispel the myths surrounding hand-rolled tobacco is another large part of their work.
Beverley said: "We are trying to dispel the myth that smoking hand-rolled tobacco is herbal – it's not. Hand rolling tobacco is as bad for you as ordinary cigarettes.
"Some of the carcinogenic and poisonous chemicals found in tobacco, as well as in tailor-made's, include cadmium, a metal found in batteries; formaldehyde, used for preserving dead bodies; ammonia, found in most cleaning fluids; enzyme, which is used in fuel; cyanide, an industrial pollutant; arsenic, used to poison rats; and acetone, a paint stripper. Nobody in their right mind would put any of that into their body!"
Hand-rolled tobacco is just as bad for you as ordinary cigarettes, and can result in the same health risks including cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease, impotence, infertility, and even amputation. Research has also suggested that people who smoke hand-rolled cigarettes also have an increased risk of cancer of the mouth, oesophagus, pharynx and larynx compared to smokers of manufactured cigarettes.
If you want help to quit smoking contact the local NHS Stop Smoking Service on 01752 314040.