Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Smoking and Tobacco

Smoking and Cancer

04/06/2004

Question:

I am a school teacher and we have studied cancer in science class. I would like to know if there is any substance known to humans that could be smoked like a cigarette but that will not cause cancer in people? Does that even exist?

Answer:

It is not clear from your question if you had a particular type of smoked product in mind. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services` Office on Women`s Health has identified that cigars, smokeless tobacco and homemade cigarettes, such as bidis and kreteks, can be dangerous.

Bidis are small, hand-rolled cigarettes from India and other Southeast Asian countries that are frequently flavored and described by some as smoking a "dessert". However, when tested on a standard smoking machine, bidis produce higher levels of carbon monoxide, nicotine, and tar than do regular cigarettes. Studies suggest that bidi users are at increased risk for heart disease and cancers of the mouth, lung, voice box, throat, stomach, and liver.

Clove cigarettes, also called kreteks, can cause serious illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis and life threatening lung conditions. These products are not safer forms of consumption, similar to what we have recently learned about the dangers of cigarettes advertised as "low nicotine, low tar."  These did not lead to reduced exposure in smokers.

Inhaling smoke from whatever product you are considering yields carbon monoxide as a result of combustion. Increased carbon monoxide has effects on the circulatory system and the body`s ability to carry oxygen.

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emeritus
College of Public Health
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University