Herbal cigarettes are used in TV shows and movies where people are shown smoking, but the actors are not actually smokers in real life. They look very real, which is, of course, the whole idea, but one must ask if they are really safe.
Herbal cigarettes are those which are made from ground-up herbs, such as marshmallow, Yerba Santa, Damiana, passion flower, jasmine and ginseng. Cloves are also a popular ingredient in herbal cigarettes. Herbal cigarettes may also contain natural tobacco--that is, tobacco which contains no additives. This is supposed to make thecigarettes safer.
However, herbal cigarettes must be "lit" in order to be smoked. The smoke is drawn into the lungs just as with regular cigarettes, and blown out through the nose and mouth, just as with regular cigarettes. Therefore, smoke is still getting into the respiratory system and bloodstream. Claims are being made that smoking herbal cigarettes actually helps people quit smoking regular cigarettes. There is conflicting information concerning these claims.
Regardless, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in June 2000, because the manufacturers of herbal cigarettes were claiming that they were safe and produced no ill effects. However, they did not have adequate or accurate information with which to support these claims. The manufacturers agreed to stop publicising such information, and to add warning labels to herbal cigarettes, just as the manufacturers of regular cigarettes are required to do.
The types of herbal cigarettes available are the same as regular cigarettes. Consumers can choose from regular flavour, menthol flavour, filtered or unfiltered. Likewise, there are also cigars and cigarillos. There is even smokeless herbal tobacco that is chewed or dipped, just like regular smokeless tobacco.
Herbal products designed for smoking, chewing or dipping are designed to look exactly like their regular counterparts. The only way to tell the difference is by the aroma. Rather than have the acrid smell of regular tobacco, herbal fragrances are present.
Because those herbs which produce feelings of relaxation, calmness and anti-anxiety are usually the ones picked for herbal cigarettes, smokers can sometimes experience those feelings. Further, "ecstasy" herbal cigarettes can give smokers the same feeling as ingesting the drug in other ways. See the Warning section for more information on ecstasy cigarettes.
Herbal cigarettes are a health hazard, and they are dangerous. Besides the fact that people are still taking smoke into the lungs and bloodstream, some will suffer side effects from, or may even be allergic to the herbs that are used. The side effects can be as mild as a skin rash, or as severe as anaphylactic shock.
In addition, legal questions have risen because of the fact that ecstasy cigarettes are available, and can be procured. Some states do consider it a crime to possess and use ecstasy cigarettes. Parents of minors should know that herbal cigarettes are not regulated for sale in the same way as regular cigarettes, and are easier for minors to get.
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