The Truth About Nicotine-Free Cigarettes – Educate Yourself

In their plight to quit smoking for good, many are looking for alternative methods. These may include nicotine-free cigarettes. However, these are sometimes more hazardous than traditional cigarettes.

Many producers of nicotine-free cigarettes advertise that their products are a safe alternative to smoking “real” cigarettes. These products have brought about much confusion to the smoking cessation market. They have many people asking, “Are these products safer than conventional cigarettes?” “Do these products pose no real risks?” Unfortunately, the answer may not be what many were hoping. In fact, the answer may not be so cut-and-dried, at all.

What are Nicotine-Free Cigarettes?

Nicotine-free cigarettes are generally a cigarette-like product that instead uses various herbs and other ingredients while avoiding the use of traditional tobacco. The companies boast the fact that their products are without nicotine and therefore are a “safer” alternative. Some companies advertise that these products help the user to quit smoking. They claim that these products are smoking cessation aids. However, this is not exactly the case.

What is in a Nicotine-free Cigarette?

Nicotine-free cigarettes usually use ingredients such as:

  • Jasmine
  • Ginseng
  • Passion flower
  • Lotus leaf
  • Licorice root
  • Red clover flowers
  • Rose petals
  • Corn silk

Many of us assume these herbal supplements are harmless or even healthy when consumed. However, this depends on the manner in which we consume, as well as the amount consumed. According to WebMD, ingredients such as licorice root may cause severe health complications when used in large amounts for more than 4 weeks. Consuming licorice daily for more than four weeks or longer may lead to severe side effects including “high blood pressure, low potassium levels, weakness, paralysis, and occasionally brain damage in otherwise healthy people.”

How Safe are Nicotine-Free Cigarettes?

Unfortunately for those hoping that they have found a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, nicotine-free cigarettes are not as healthy as they are advertised to be. Any cigarette-like product which requires the user to inhale smoke, the byproduct of combustion, is still subject to unsafe quantities of tar and carbon monoxide. These chemical properties lead to lung cancers, mouth cancers, and esophageal cancers.

In fact, some believe that as the user feels safer smoking the product, they may do so more frequently, and may also inhale more often and deeper per cigarette. This overloading of tar and carbon monoxide can ultimately be more hazardous than smoking a traditional cigarette in the long-term. These products may place the smoker at greater risk of cancer than traditional cigarettes

The buzz surrounding these alternative cigarettes often neglects to reflect the settlement reached in 2000, by the FTC which stated that alternative cigarette advertisements have been found to be deceitful. “Settlements require companies to disclose that herbal cigarettes are dangerous and that “no additives” does not mean a safer smoke.”

Risks of Nicotine Free Cigarettes

Nicotine free cigarettes are not safer than traditional cigarettes. Any cigarette you can smoke, whether it is made from tobacco or other herbs, still contains tar and carbon monoxide. These chemical components in smoking can lead to lung problems and cancers including lung, esophageal and mouth cancers. Some herbal cigarettes, like imported bidis flavored like cherry or vanilla, must be puffed more often so that they will stay lit, which ultimately brings more smoke into the lungs where damage can occur.

Like tobacco based cigarettes, herbal cigarettes also increase the risk of heart disease due to the tar they contain. The carbon monoxide you inhale from smoking any cigarette can also cause brain damage, asphyxiation and breathing problems.

To sum up, nicotine cigarettes can cause:

  • Brain damage
  • Heart disease
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Asphyxiation
  • Breathing problems
  • Lung, esophageal and mouth cancers

Also, some people can have allergies to the herbs used in herbal cigarettes. These allergic reactions can be severe and may occur either immediately or after repeated use.

The Bottom Line

Products such as these fail to address the fact that in order to render the effects or even the lack thereof, the user must first use a flame to light the end and inhale smoke. The advertisements claim that these products help the user “quit smoking.” However, one cannot quit smoking by using a product that requires them to smoke to do so. These products still require smoking, therefore by definition and action, one cannot quit smoking by use of these products.

The products claim they are safer because they do not contain nicotine; however, they still embody the chemicals which may lead to several forms of cancer. This fact does not imply safer. The fact that one may believe it is safer may ultimately lead the individual to smoke these cigarette alternatives more frequently, thus, leading to greater health hazards –  quicker than traditional cigarettes.

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Published: July 12, 2015 Updated: May 14, 2019



Leave a comment

22 comments on “The Truth About Nicotine-Free Cigarettes – Educate Yourself

  • Isabella ciampa

    September 19, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve just stopped and it was murder! I wonder how many would still smoke if it was £20 a packet. Good luck if your giving up.

  • Paula

    August 1, 2018 at 4:07 am

    I was a non smoker for 14 years due to a break down in a relationship I felt the need to smoke again to make me feel better. After two years I went off them again. Then six months later I went on them again. Then after a year I went off them again. Now two years later I went to smoke again. Not all the time just sometimes my brain says sit down and have a wee smoke and a coffee . So the point being that it never leaves u and it can be a battle every day to not smoke. I am currently looking at herbal cigs to fix my situation. I have an e cig which helps sometimes but when in company of other smokers I feel I want one as well.

  • Nate

    July 26, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    I’m thinking that nicotine free cigarettes appeal more to those who are a social smoker. People who would like to have a cigarette here and there without the dependence that comes along with addictive substances. They may also appeal to those who are trying to quit traditional cigarettes in favour of still having the rituals attached to these addictions (driving with a cigarette, smoking with others, “coffee & a cigarette”, etc.).

    I have to disagree with the comment about addictions simply being psychological. They are physiological, which is both psychological and physical. This has to do with the chemical structure in our brains and how substances or behaviours interact on a physical level- while the psychological aspect is in part of the physical. Addictions are real, hell, you could technically become addicted to nicotine-free cigarettes.

  • JC

    July 22, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Othee than cold turkey as people say what is thw safest way ro quit ? Can lowering as average smoking habit down to one a day to none a good way to rid nicotine slowly from an addiction?

    • ALEXisHERE

      August 10, 2018 at 9:10 am

      yes. that worked for me. i smoked American spirits organic cigs for 15 years.when i decided to quit for good I went from 1/2 pack a day to a lighter cig after a month, then ultra light a month later, then cut to one cig every 4 hours, a month later just 3 a day, a month later 2 a day, then 1 a day until i didn’t reach for them anymore. while driving, i had a stuffed BIC pen (cut in half) to hold and puff for the sensation of smoking. I was smoke free after 9 months after i started.

      I did this before my wife gave birth so i would be smoke free after the kids were born so they would never see me holding a cigarette.

  • Tobaal

    July 3, 2018 at 11:58 am

    There are also nicotine free situation that smokers might be put in. For example, if you need an anterior cervical fusion (a type spine surgery) then you can not have nictone for 30 days before and 11 months after. If someone did not care to quit, but needed such a procedure, they may find some help (mentally) in a nicotine free cigarette, regardless of the health impact.

  • kiley

    December 29, 2017 at 12:41 am

    i think what they are trying to say is that anything that you have to inhale that touches your lungs is bad…with or without nicotine…either way it can hurt you…like eating candy the say hard candy causes cavaties more often than soft candies so you switch to soft and still end up with cavaties…basically you are cutting your chances by just not smoking anything at i dont hear of many studies that have been done on these nicotine free cigerettes who knows what all these “natural” products can do i mean vanilla and cherry burn remenants werent exactly intended to be sitting on the interior of your lungs just as nictotin isn’t so as a difference as a smoker i’m thinking am i giving up one sin for another?

  • TheCorrector

    December 3, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Nicotine Free is far cheaper than the alternative.

    Nicotine is not addictive, no substance is! If that were the case then everyone would become addicted if they smoked, but they don’t. Not to dissimilar to how not every drug user becomes addicted to a particular drug.

    Addiction is psychological, it is a matter of a person’s susceptibility to a certain substance.

    • TelltheTruth

      April 22, 2018 at 11:33 pm

      Nicotine is not addictive? What planet do you live on? Obviously, you have not been addicted to nicotine….trust me – it is addictive and like any other addictive drug – the longer you have it the more your body becomes dependent upon it in order for you to feel normal. I have quit smoking and have been nicotine free for 10 weeks. The first two weeks were absolute hell as I most certainly had physical withdrawals feeling like I was suffering from some type of toxic flu……Even after 10 weeks, though physical withdrawal symptoms are gone, I am now suffering from strong “psychological” battles as I miss the immediate dopamine reward from nicotine and the euphoria from the inhaling and exhaling of smoking the cigarette….I pray for a healthy alternative solution…as I do not believe that the desire to smoke will ever completely leave me.

    • Krishna

      June 11, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      this answer here ^ is everything.

    • David

      June 26, 2018 at 7:15 pm

      This just isn’t true. Saying addiction is just psychological is like saying that getting high is just psychological cause its all in your head. It’s the fact that your brain receptors interacts with chemicals in things, such as cigarettes and nicotine, making addiction a very concrete and physical thing. Having a fear of spiders is a psychological issue, having an addiction is based on physical chemicals comprised of atoms, interacting with your brain in a specific way.

    • NeonMe

      July 20, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      Dear Thecorrector,
      I normaly just read blogs and never reply, however i simply can not ignor your statement that is anything but the truth. Addiction is a well known biological and behavioral reaction to any thing that causes the person to experience relief from an undesired feeling or sensation. Due to the strong biological responces of engaging in any behavior or use of substances which the body has become dependent upon for adjusted homiostatces, it is purly false that addiction is only psychological. Unfortunatly the belief that addiction is only psychological is common and continues to feed the stigma that people who are addicted to something should just be stronger. I would encourage you to educate yourself before making statements that further stigmatize people, expecialy on a page that people are predominately looking at to try and relieve themselves from the addiction to tobacco/nicotine.

    • Paul

      September 6, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Yeah that’s not correct at all. Nicotine is chemically addictive because it binds with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain and at neuromuscular junctions. When you flood your body with nictoine for an extended period of time, receptors become desensitized (to both nicotine and the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine) this results in receptor up-regulation (an increase of nAChR receptors); in effect the brain becomes more “hungry” for nicotine and ACh. When you quit, receptors are down-regulated to a normal baseline, and so the craving for nicotine subsides. It hurts because the brain desires ACh, one of its most important neurotransmitters. Whereas some chemicals do not lead to physical dependency, nicotine categorically does due to receptor down regulation, opiods are another class of chemical that causes physical addiction due to up regulation of mu and delta opiod receptors receptors.

  • David Owen

    October 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Nice technicalities… But no one is going to continue trying to smoke nicotine free cigarettes. What’s The point? Lol! The addiction will be completely gone eventually, and they will quit, meaning overall, their health will improve. Trying to say any smoking cessation device is unhealthy is unprocessed word vomit. Boo to the author, and boo to whomever paid the author.

  • Melissa

    September 29, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Are you saying people who smoke marijuana are going to have health problems because they will have to light it up and inhale to get the effect from inhaling and come January, 1 2018 it will be legal, so in other words we just legalized people to kill themselves.

  • Ridvan Rico Aydemir

    June 3, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Why would anyone want nicotine-free cigarettes? I don’t get the point.

    • Ad

      November 28, 2017 at 7:53 am

      To look cool

    • John

      December 10, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      To try to quit I guess.

    • Mirai

      December 31, 2017 at 3:02 am

      I do cus im deathly allergic to nicotine yet I still wanna smoke

    • Donna Nixon

      September 18, 2018 at 5:58 am

      My 15 yr granddaughter who has never been interested in smoking stated that she had tried these and they’re harmless because they’re nicotine free.. so I looked it up.. still puts tar in the lungs… the harm is that teens are being pulled into this

  • Brian

    May 31, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    this is stupid..
    tobacco companies fear the genetic removal of nicotine from tobacco because then everyone will eventually quit smoking..

    the only reason smokers smoke is because of the nicotine..

    if the cigarettes dont contain nicotine then the body will lose its dependence on the drug and the person will stop smoking..

    so lets say if the nicotine free cigarettes are 10 times worse for a person than nicotine laden ones..
    and it takes 10 packs of smokes for a person to not want to smoke anymore..
    then isnt that better than a person who will smoke 100 packs of regular cigarettes and still want more to smoke after that 100 packs are gone?

    think about it..
    anyone sayine that nicotine free tobbaco is bad is working for the tobbaco companies..

    • SMitchell

      September 17, 2018 at 11:02 am

      I totally agree Brian. I’ve bought a cartoon of cocoa bean sticks and my nicotine craving is pretty much gone. I don’t think I’ll need to buy any more after this, and am not craving a cigarette.
      I would say that’s much safer than continuing to smoke nicotine.