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6 Cigarette Substitutes that May Be Harmful for You

Updated on July 30, 2014

Even after learning about the severe adverse effects that cigarettes have on people's health the use of tobacco products didn't decline. However, that didn't stop people from trying to find alternatives to traditional cigarette smoking...even if partaking in the other choices aren't really that much better. Or are they?

1) Hookahs and E-Cigarettes

Because of the flavors used in both hookahs and e-cigarettes and the fact that they actually end up tasting and smelling good, people think they're a safe substitute for cigarettes. The truth is, they still have tobacco in them, which is harmful for your health. Most companies also stopped using celebrities to promote tobacco products, but now people like Christina Milian promote the product.

Hookahs and e-cigs aren't a brand new thing. People have been smoking them for years in clubs or restaurants since the odor they give off is considered a lot more pleasant (and a billion tons less offensive) than cigarette or cigar smoke. The image is, beautiful young women puff on them in public situations and it has an appealing look, rather than smoking cigarettes, and the message is that they give off the same allure of smoking without having any of the harmful side effects. Also, a lot of people pare down on smoking regular cigarettes using e-cigs.

So what's the harm?

According to an article on CBS News there have been an increase in teens using these products, “More middle and high school students are smoking electronic cigarettes, hookahs and cigars, according to a new government report form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While rates for those tobacco products have increased, overall youth smoking rates haven't declined at all, a concerning figure for health officials.”

The increased use shouldn't be surprising since there have been more young celebrity endorsements for hookahs and e-cigs over the years. The issue is, should parents be worried about their teens using these products? As I've stated, it's become more of a social thing and young girls, especially, could feel pressured to partake if they see their friends using the recreationally.

Are they a gateway for actual cigarette use or for "harder" drug use? I suppose only time will tell. Posing that question is like asking if social drinking will lead to alcohol abuse in certain individuals in the future. There's always the possibility.

2) Weed

Why it’s considered a better alternative: Technically speaking, there are no harmful additives to marijuana. There are no components to marijuana that can cause long term damage to internal organs nor does it have any links to causing cancer or any other illnesses. Of course, Hollywood constantly pushes the image of the consummate weed smoker slash slacker slob that lives in his mother’s basement and never wants to work; then again, Hollywood is also the business that always used to push the image of happy black slaves that loved nothing better than serving their white masters so it’s up to you if you choose to put credence into that immense load of bullshit if you want. The truth is, in Rasta culture, whether you accept their way of life or not, marijuana is used more as a meditation and “healing” agent than a drug. In fact, studies have shown that the TCH released from marijuana smoke had no impact on lung function, and even suggested a slight improvement in lung function.

The downside: For years the legalization of marijuana has been at the center of major controversy and some very heated debates, not only among recreational and religious smokers, but also among people looking for a natural alternative to pain medication. As of now there are twenty states, along with the District of Columbia, that have sanctioned the use of medical marijuana. But please don’t think that the possession of marijuana won’t still land your ass in jail even though it’s been legalized to a certain extent in particular regions. First of all, there are specific guidelines to the proprietorship of growing and holding marijuana. And keep in mind that just because you may have obtained the marijuana in a region where it’s legal doesn’t mean that once you travel outside of that region it’s still going to be considered legal. Aside from those places where it’s been made legal, most individuals still can’t grow it, you can’t carry it, you can’t keep it hidden in your panty drawer, so you know you’re not allowed to actually smoke the shit. Plenty of jobs will sack you if it’s found in your system if they decide to do a random drug test on you no matter how many positives you can derive from its use, and the bottom line is that it does alter most people’s mental states after use to some extent. Maybe not on the exaggerated level as seen on That 70s Show where people sometimes sound like Darth Vader or to the point where spiders appear as horses or any of that other crap, but your perception maybe skewed the same as with any other mild hallucinogen.

3) Tea

This may sound kind of weird to some people—tearing open a tea bag and smoking its contents—but it's a common practice for quite a few...and the numbers of those trying it as opposed to cigarettes is growing. In fact, there are families in China that sit around smoking tea together from pipes. Whether or not smoking tea is helpful or harmful to your body has yet to be seen since there's not a lot of studies being done on the matter. But the fact is that most people believe that the effects of smoking tea are always good, and since smoking tea causes no harm to the lungs because free radicals are absent and most kinds of teas contain antioxidant properties. And the best part is, it's not illegal.

4) Cigars

There are many people who don't think of cigars as harmful, especially if they only do it on occasion, and they will tell you that it's fine as long as they don't inhale. Years ago, after dinner, it wasn't out of the ordinary for a man to retreat to his study and have a scotch (or bourbon) with a cigar, and people still do that today. The problem is, one cigar is equal to about an entire pack of cigarettes.

5) Chewing Tobacco

The best thing about chewing tobacco as opposed to cigarettes is there is no second hand smoke to worry about, but it still contains the same harmful ingredients.

But on a personal note, I'd just like to add, as someone who's seen people with wads of this stuff jammed in their mouth over the's just fucking disgusting and I don't care if it's considered a better alternative in any way, just don't do it.

6) “Alternative” Cigarettes

Adding the word “herbal” in front of most things makes it sound a lot better to people, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is better. For instance, with cigarettes it doesn't matter if they're herbal, they still release toxins that could be harmful for you.

When actors have to use cigarettes on TV or in movies, most of them tend to use herbal cigarettes, but according to an article on, they're just as harmful. "In fact, herbal cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco cigarettes, because any vegetable matter that's burned produces tar, carbon monoxide, and other toxins. When you breathe in the smoke of an herbal cigarette, you're breathing those harmful toxins directly into your lungs. Herbal cigarettes are required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to carry warning labels saying that they're harmful to your health."


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