Lots of people want to know “is smoking ethical?” – either vegetarian, vegan, or good for animals. We’ve looked at a few of the issues that might help you decide if smoking fits in with your personal approach to these things.
SO IS SMOKING VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN?
Vegetarians usually don’t eat meat or any part of an animal. Vegans don’t eat any animal products (this includes things like eggs and milk). If you are vegetarian or vegan it’s up to you to decide if smoking fits with your beliefs. If you’re a veggie or vegan for health reasons, maybe because you sleep better or you get tummy aches from eating meat, this might not be a direct reason not to smoke (though smoking isn’t very good for your health in lots of other ways!)
If you’re veggie or vegan for ethical or environmental reasons (the harm to animals and their habitats or over-farming), there are lots of reasons why smoking wouldn’t fit in with this lifestyle.
Ever noticed how there’s no list of ingredients on a pack of cigarettes despite there being over 4000 chemicals packed inside?
Tobacco leaf itself is free from meat and animal products so it is technically vegetarian and vegan (as far as we can tell). The glue used in rolling papers made by the world’s largest manufacturer is also vegetable based.
There is an ingredient called Castoreum which comes from a gland next to a beaver’s bum (the beaver would usually be killed to retrieve it) but sometimes this is created synthetically.
Tobacco companies are very secretive about the additives they use so we can’t say 100% whether it is or isn’t used anymore.
HARVESTING OF TOBACCO AND PAPER
Deforestation and destruction of habitats through harvesting happens whether a farmer is growing tobacco or vegetables. The difference is that vegetables are grown as a healthy food to sustain you. Cigarettes are… not. Almost 6 trillion cigarettes are produced per year across the world, not to mention rolling papers – how many trees and animal habitats have been destroyed to make all of these?
Animal testing is a contentious issue and always will be. Nearly all tobacco products are or have been tested on animals. Search a tobacco manufacturer’s website and they’ll probably tell you. They may try to hide the information and they definitely won’t tell you the horrific details (we’re sure you can imagine), but they will say something. Peta said, “R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris have conducted tests in recent years in which animals were forced to inhale cigarette smoke, eat tobacco, and have cigarette tar smeared onto their bare skin.”
If you’re a vegan, do you sometimes say, “I’d never shop there because they test on animals”? The same goes for cigarettes… American Spirit tobacco is said to be vegan but the company who owns them, RJ Reynolds, tests on animals for its other products.