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For those of you who smoke hand rolling tobacco (rollies) instead of cigarettes...

For those of you who smoke hand rolling tobacco (rollies) instead of cigarettes...

Although this campaign is currently running in the South-West of England, the dangers of smoking hand rolling tobacco still applies to everyone.

Have a read through the article below for more information, and for some more interesting facts on hand rolling tobacco please visit;


A campaign has been launched to dispel the myths of ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ hand rolling tobacco, as it is revealed that more South West smokers roll their own cigarettes.

More people are smoking hand rolling tobacco than manufactured cigarettes in the South West, but many are unaware that although hand rolling tobacco is often marketed as less harmful than manufactured cigarettes, it carries the same serious health risks

The South West Campaign, launched by Smoke Free South West with support from Devon County Council aims to bust the myths around ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ hand rolling tobacco. New high impact billboards to go up around the region to raise the awareness of the damaging effects of smoking hand rolling tobacco which can cause blindness, tumours and dementia.

The number of smokers smoking hand rolling tobacco has increased from 1 in 3 (36%) in 2010 to more than a half (53%) of all smokers in 2013 across the South West, according to a new survey.

The survey reveals that the increase in these figures is due to smokers swapping manufactured cigarettes for hand rolling tobacco – often in the mistaken belief that it is less harmful.

The findings come from a survey of 2,000 people earlier this year, commissioned by Smokefree South West about tobacco use in the region.

Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West said: “The survey exposes a worrying change. We believe the switch from cigarettes to hand rolling tobacco is likely to be driven by the economic climate but with the majority of smokers now smoking some hand rolling tobacco, it’s vital to ensure they have the straight facts on the dangers posed.

“There is no such thing as safe tobacco – the same manufacturers who make cigarettes such as the West Country’s own Imperial Tobacco also produce pouches of rolling tobacco.”

“Whilst roll-ups can appear cheaper, the cost to health of smoking roll-ups is just as high and they should not be seen as a healthier option to manufactured cigarettes.

“It is not surprising such a misconception exists however as hand rolling tobacco packaging often portrays the product as a healthier option, featuring images like green and yellow leaves as well as wording like ‘natural’. In fact hand rolling tobacco contains the same deadly chemicals as manufactured cigarettes and as it can be smoked without a filter, can actually be more dangerous for the smoker.”

Since the Wise-Up to Roll-Ups campaign first launched in 2011, over 210,000 smokers in the South West claim to have cut down their tobacco use or taken steps towards quitting.

This year, Smokefree South West is introducing hard hitting billboards across the region putting the spotlight on serious damage and disability smokers may not realise are associated with smoking, including blindness and dementia.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “As the purse strings tighten the use of hand rolling tobacco is going up, however although it may appear to be a cheaper alternative, smoking hand rolling tobacco remains as dangerous and deadly as any other form of tobacco, something many people are still largely unaware of.

“The public health campaign, ‘Wise-Up to Roll-Ups’ dispels the myths that hand rolling tobacco is more ‘natural’ and so less harmful than manufactured cigarettes and offers practical, straightforward information to local people through Wise Up pouches .”

Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon’s Director of Public Health said: “Largely due to the way hand rolling tobacco is marketed, many roll-ups smokers believe that smoking in this way is a healthier and more natural alternative. Perhaps because smokers feel they can control the amount of tobacco they smoke in a roll-up by putting less in each roll-up there is also a feeling that they are minimising the health risks associated with smoking.

“There is a myth that smoking roll ups is somehow a ‘healthier’ option to smoking cigarettes bought in packets, which is simply not true. In the South West, research showed some smokers even thought it might be ‘organic’. In fact, smoking hand rolling tobacco still exposes the smoker to over 4,000 chemicals as well as to the serious, life threatening diseases associated with smoking.

“Hand rolling tobacco presents exactly the same kinds of health risks to smokers as manufactured cigarettes, such as tumour, blindness, impotence, lung disease and even dementia.”

Nationally, of those children aged 11-15 who do smoke, 1 in 3 (35%) boys smoke hand rolling tobacco as opposed to 1 in 5 (15%) girls. This contrasts with 31% of boys and 45% of girls who smoke manufactured cigarettes. This suggests that especially for boys, hand rolling tobacco acts as an entry product for young people to start smoking.

Anyone considering quitting smoking can get a free pouch containing information about hand rolling tobacco and tools to help quit by texting WISE4 to 81066 or going to the website.

8 Replies

Thanks for that.I smoked roll ups for 45 years and have been saying all along they are safer.

Over this time I have got mild emphysemia and i'm due another operation on my legs to unblock the arteries.I have had an operation six weeks ago in my groin near my tummy button whilst I was awake.,It was horrible.I have stopped smoking cigarettes now and its just over 3 weeks since I had one.I am using an e cig and managing to keep the cravings at bay.I have had to stop 'fell walking ' as the pain in my legs has become unbearable,but the surgeon says he can fix this but it will return if I contnue to smoke and I would end up with an amputation or wheelchair.Its taken me a long time to surrender.My choice was a wheelchair or my rucsac.I am determined to walk the glen coe way within the next two years.I have done many long distance paths and want to continue.Enough is enough.Im 58 now and this could be a warning to other younger people in as much as 'We think we are getting away with it,like I did but this silent killer came around the back door and 'nailed me'

Thank you.


Hope you get better soon. Trouble is we respond differently. In my childhood I've seen very old women smoking tobacco in huge amounts to live beyond 90 - Arabian beduins who otherwise have had a much healthier lifestyle when they were growing up, which must have given me the 'illusion' that I would be safe smoking rollups. I've only just discovered that rollup tobacco has 4000 harmful chemicals! I'm not sure I can actually 'believe' this figure, but I know that I must. I've switched from rollups to vaping about 12 months ago but I note worsening breathing problems. However, there might be other contributors. I don't think anything to do with smoking - tobacco or vaping - will ever be healthy. I was young when I watched those elderly women smoking their huge pipes - but our lives cannot be compared to theirs and it was one big mistake on my part. Now I know/


I remember my mom rolling cigs.from a little machine.


I smoked hand rolled for last few years cos of finances and ashamed to say didn't use filters, had so many chesty colds ...


we all smoke hand rolling tobbacco in our family. my mum is 64 and just beeen diagnosed with copd. my dad has a chronic chesty cough and ive got my second chest infection in six months. im quitting any day now and just mentally preparing myself. i really dont want to end up with copd or bronchitis. although i always put a filter in my hand made roll up i dont think this diminishes the risk. pure tobbacco is just as lethal as ciggarettes just cheaper.and your fingers go yellow and smell vile. so iff this isnt reason to quit then i dont know.


I got way worse lung symptoms the 6 months I smoked them because I was trying to get by cheaper--I eventually went back to tailor mades--spent more and continued chipping away at my health and well being for another 2 years :(


I would have preferred the conclusion to come earlier, e.g. 'over 4,000 chemicals followed' by the other info re what personalities are doing or saying - sounds like too much repetition. A link to stats would have been truly useful. My local MP likes stats and I like to get him involved in these issues as he had proven useful in the campaign for Cancer Research regarding tobacco packaging. Thank you very much for the articled, it is useful.


Whether its hand rolled fags or already made fags they are both bad. If they weren't bad then there would be less cancers, diseases etc with hand rolled fags. Id say its somewhat a marketing scheme. Smoking hand rolled fags or already made fags are bad. waste of money. this is my input on this.

I use to smoke hand rolled fags all the time because 1 its cheaper and 2 you can make the tobacco last longer than already made smokes.

I quit because it made me ill, Chest infections, Chest Pains, Lack of Energy, Joint pain, back pain, infected eye sight, hearing, breathing problems, running out of breathe.

I smoked rolled fags for 8 years. Since 18. Im 25 year old and having these problems. All problems from smoking.

When i was younger i just ignored everyone that said dont smoke its bad for you. Wish i took there advise instead of being so naive.

Best thing you can ever do is quit :)


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