Herbal cigarettes, that contain a blend of neatly rolled herbs inside the tendu leaves are easily available everywhere and what’s more surprising about them is that they are marked ‘healthy’ by most people. The new study published in ‘Tobacco Control‘ estimates the health concerns related to these herbal cigarettes, which are healthy, according to most people who use them.
It is necessary to know that these cigarettes are free from tobacco which means there is no nicotine and other harmful substances inside like typical tobacco products. However, researchers believe that the sale and purchase of these ‘healthy herbal cigarettes’ should be regulated as soon as possible.
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These cigarettes are easily available in many parts of Europe, Australia, and Asia, mainly India. This easy availability makes them accessible to younger ones who are deeply interested in trying them.
The data used in this study was taken from popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc to identify the number of websites offering herbal cigarettes. Among the 1044 entries, nearly 73 webpages were selected for the final study.
These webpages which were selected were based in India (with the highest number 29), with the US in second place (with 20 pages) followed by UK (only 8), Israel and New Zealand ( with 3 each ), and less than 3 from China, Canada, and Australia.
All of these webpages showed products from 24 different brands that were manufactured by 19 companies. There were at least 189 flavors available in these cigarettes and they were available in the pack of 5-20 cigarettes each.
62%, which makes more than 2/3rd of these webpages were dealing with herbal cigarettes and 12% had bidis in stock. Interestingly, 26% of them were also selling herbal sheesha also called ‘hookah’. And all of these products were categorized under the ‘healthcare’ section which could be a major determinant of why people believe herbal cigarettes to be healthy in the first place.
43 pages (59% of the total) also mentioned the alleged ‘health benefits’ of these products in the description tab. 41% of them said that these products were a part of complementary medicine and helpful to quit smoking, relieve chronic stress and respiratory conditions which surprisingly include COVID-19 too.
Some other companies believe that their products are mood enhancer, improve concentration, boost energy metabolism and also relieves a jet lag.
But what’s more surprising is that it was only mentioned in 16% of these webpages that these claims are neither verified or confirmed by any regulatory authority. It means anyone can write anything about them and there is no way to keep a check on it.
Only 3% or less warned people about the risks attached to smoking cigarettes but none of them added any side effects that are linked with herbal cigarettes.
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Most of them (67%) needed no age requirement or proof to make a purchase and only 22% wrote that these products are not suitable or sold to minor users.
Although the search engine results are different in every country so there are good chances that these findings may not be true everywhere. That’s why the study only focused on webpages that were available in English only. It didn’t include the wholesale companies.
Most people find these herbal cigarettes healthy and safe as compared to conventional cigarettes which have more chemicals inside. But there is plenty of data that suggests they are not healthy. While it looks like that these companies are deceiving the buyers or misleading them to assume it to be a healthy product, a strict regulation of these products would put a limit on its use by minor and unverified health claims.