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Are Cigarettes Vegan? Why Not and What’s in Them

are cigarettes vegan
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ukieiri

It’s old news that cigarettes are bad for you. But they can also contain animal products like goo from beavers’ anal glands. Here’s which cigarettes are vegan, which aren’t and why.

First thing first — are cigarettes vegan? Some cigarettes aren’t vegan because they contain animal products or because the manufacturers do animal testing. While awareness of the dangerous health effects of smoking has increased, many are unaware of the negative impacts of cigarettes on animals.

If you’re concerned about animal welfare and want to steer clear of animal products, consider what you’re smoking. Chances are your cigarettes aren’t vegan.

Read on for which cigarettes are vegan and which aren’t, and how they impact the environment.

Animal Products in Cigarettes — Like Secretion from Beavers’ Anal Sacs

Are cigarettes vegan? Not if they contain castoreum.
Are cigarettes vegan? Not if they contain castoreum. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Elli60)

The tobacco industry contributes to widespread animal suffering in everything from the tobacco harvesting process to manufacturing. There are around 600 ingredients in cigarettes, and some are not vegan.

The most common animal product in cigarettes is shellac, which is used as an adhesive. But what is shellac? Is it vegan? Considering it’s made from the secretions of the lac beetle, it most definitely isn’t.

Cigarette filters can also contain pig hemoglobin, a protein from pigs’ red blood cells. It traps harmful chemicals before they can enter a smoker’s lungs.

Beeswax is another common non-vegan-friendly product frequently found in cigarettes. There’s some disagreement about whether or not beeswax counts. Check out Is Beeswax Vegan? The Gist of the Debate & 5 Alternatives for more information.

Perhaps the most notable ingredient, which means cigarettes aren’t vegan, is castoreum — secretion from beavers’ anal glands. The FDA considers this surprisingly icky additive a safe food ingredient and natural flavoring. According to National Geographic, “Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine.”

So, are cigarettes vegan? Some brands are, but some absolutely aren’t. Here are which cigarette brands contain animal products.

What Cigarette Brands Aren’t Vegan?

If you’re asking, “Are my cigarettes vegan?” we’ve got you covered. Here are the brands known to test on animals or contain animal products:

  • Samson
  • Lucky Strike
  • Westpoint
  • Winchester
  • Camel
  • Chesterfield
  • Optima
  • Boston
  • Pall Mall

Are Cigarettes Vegan? These Ones Are!

These cigarette brands do not test on animals and do not contain any animal products in their cigarettes:

  • West
  • Davidoff
  • Gauloises
  • Manila
  • Brookfield
  • Black Hawk
  • Dockers
  • JBR
  • Red Bull

How Smoking Impacts the Environment

Tobacco plantations can damage local ecosystems.
Tobacco plantations can damage local ecosystems. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / distelAPPArath)

The reason cigarettes aren’t vegan isn’t just that they contain animal products, but tobacco manufacturers frequently conduct animal testing as well. Many companies test on monkeys, dogs, rats and mice. The animals are made to inhale cigarette smoke and are often killed during the testing process.

Cigarette production also hurts the environment. The extensive use of pesticides in tobacco fields can get into water supplies, and some tobacco-growing processes cause damage to soil and lead to soil degradation. Cigarettes also lead to deforestation as land is cleared for tobacco plantations and can cause water depletion.

A report by Imperial College London found that a person smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes per day for 50 years is responsible for 1.4 million liters of water depletion. Significant waste and emissions are produced at every stage of cigarette manufacturing, and globally the tobacco industry generates around 84 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Another way cigarettes negatively affect the environment is the enormous amount of cigarette butts left on the ground and in bodies of water. Worldwide, around 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered each year. Cigarette butts are non-biodegradable, which means they won’t break down organically.

That means even if your cigarettes are vegan, they still do substantial environmental damage.

Smoking and Your Health

Cigarettes contain over 7000 chemicals.
Cigarettes contain over 7000 chemicals. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels)

There is no denying that smoking has detrimental health effects. Smoking cigarettes damages nearly every organ of the body and causes serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease, strokes, respiratory diseases, cancer and many other illnesses.

A report by the American Heart Association concluded that smokers, especially those who start young, are three times more likely to die prematurely than those who don’t. Although vegan cigarettes are a more humane option than those tested on animals or containing animal products, it is much better for your health to quit smoking altogether.

Quitting smoking reduces the risk of premature death and can add up to 10 years to your life. Now that you have an answer to the question “are cigarettes vegan” take a look at What’s the Best Way to Quit Smoking? 6 Tips and Tricks for some easy-to-implement ideas to help you kick the habit.

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