Smoking has become a public health threat, leading to serious health problems, such as lung cancer, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
As statistics from WHO show, tobacco causes more than 8 million deaths each year, among which about 7 million are the result of direct use of tobacco, and more than 1.2 million deaths are associated with exposure to second-hand smoke.
With the public becoming more and more aware of the health risks of smoking, many people choose to kick the habit, while those who are unable or unwilling to end this habit turn to tobacco-free alternative practices as a way to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes.
These alternative products include e-cigarettes, herbal cigarettes,heat-not-burn herbal sticks or herbal heated sticks, oral nicotine products, and so on. The most prevalent tobacco-free alternative should be e-cigarettes, which have been popular all over the world for many years.
Meanwhile, in recent years, herbal-based alternatives have attracted more and more attention around the world.
Natural herbs are well known for their healing benefits, are usually used as natural remedies, and exist in healthy cooking or drinks, especially in Asian countries. But what about smoking herbs? Are herbal cigarettes a good alternative to tobacco smoking?
Besides herbal cigarettes, another kind of herbal-based alternative – heat-not-burn herbal sticks, is becoming more and more popular. So, what’s the difference between herbal cigarettes and heat-not-burn herbal sticks? Which is a better alternative to tobacco smoking?
What is a herbal cigarette?
Herbal cigarettes are known as tobacco-free or nicotine-free cigarettes. They mimic regular cigarettes in many aspects, such as appearance, working science, smoking behavior, and feeling.
For example, just like regular cigarettes, when in use, herbal cigarettes are burned with an open flame to produce smoke for users to inhale. Besides, herbal cigarettes replicate the smoking process of regular cigarettes, including the inhalation and exhalation of the smoke, the hand-to-mouth actions, and so on.
Simply put, herbal cigarettes give users a feeling similar to smoking regular cigarettes. Studies have shown that in addition to nicotine dependence, smoking habits or routines are also one of the obstacles for many smokers to quit tobacco smoking. Herbal cigarettes remain the habit of smoking so that they can help smokers to relieve smoking-withdrawal symptoms and to achieve a smooth transition.
When it comes to the ingredients, herbal cigarettes are essentially different from conventional cigarettes. Instead of using actual tobacco, herbal cigarettes use natural herbs or other plant-based materials as the basic materials. Therefore, herbal cigarettes do not contain nicotine, which is a stimulant that is highly addictive and makes people smoke often. For this reason, people often use herbal cigarettes as an aid tool to help quit nicotine.
Some popular natural herbs used in herbal cigarettes include menthol, damiana, jasmine, corn silk, lavender, rose petals, chamomile, marshmallow, ginseng, and different kinds of tea. Due to the diversity of natural herbs, herbal cigarettes can provide much richer flavors than conventional cigarettes.
Many of these natural herbs boast health benefits and are traditionally used for therapeutic purposes in Eastern countries. For example, damiana contains stimulating properties that can enhance and stimulate mood, and chamomile can calm the body and mind.
Due to these natural herbs’ therapeutic effects, herbal cigarettes are believed to help relieve insomnia, anxiety, stress, and other chronic health problems such as respiratory tract diseases.
However, although these natural herbs or plant matter could promote health when consumed as food or drink, there is not sufficient scientific evidence to prove that they are beneficial to health when they are burnt.
Are herbal cigarettes a healthier substitute for tobacco cigarettes?
It is well known that smoking regular cigarettes will bring various health risks to the body. However, do you know that the harm of smoking traditional cigarettes is actually caused by burning tobacco?
Regular cigarettes (tobacco cigarettes) will release tobacco smoke and its residues when burning, which contain nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar, ash, and many other harmful chemicals.
Researches show that there are thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke and its by-products, among which 250 compounds are found to be toxic, and around 70 chemicals are considered to be cancer-caused.
These toxic chemicals include tobacco-specific nitrosamine, benzene, formaldehyde, and so on, which are the main culprits of tobacco-related diseases.
Although herbal cigarettes do not contain tobacco and will not produce tobacco smoke when used, it does not mean that smoking herbal cigarettes is not dangerous.
The reason is that burning plant matter will release combustion by-products, which may be dangerous to the body. Just like regular cigarettes, herbal cigarettes burn and release herbal smoke when used. So, smoking herbal cigarettes may bring potential health risks.
Some studies show that herbal smoke may be as harmful as conventional cigarette smoke, depending on the types of natural herbs.
For instance, according to a report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), herbal cigarettes will create many of the toxic compounds found in tobacco smoke when burned, such as carbon monoxide, tar, and other toxins.
But there is currently no comprehensive conclusion or overview about the negative effects of combusted herbal cigarettes on the body, so more research is needed to identify their safety further.
All in all, compared with traditional cigarettes, herbal cigarettes provide users with a more flavorful and enjoyable smoking experience, making them attractive. Besides, they imitate the smoking acts and rituals, giving users a feeling similar to smoking. Hence, herbal cigarettes may have the potential to help smokers kick their tobacco addiction.
However, herbal cigarettes may not be a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes because they will burn when used, releasing burning residues harmful to the human body.
How about heat-not-burn herbal sticks? Is it a better alternative to smoking?
Heat-not-burn herbal sticks
Heat-not-burn herbal sticks are also referred to as herbal heated sticks or tobacco-free heated sticks.
Unlike smoked herbal cigarettes that require an open flame when used, heat-not-burn herbal sticks are heated by a battery-powered electronic device to a temperature of about 350°C, generating aerosols that users inhale.
As the heating temperature is much lower than that of combustible cigarettes, which can reach an extremely high temperature of about 900°C, no combustion or burning is involved when a herbal heated stick is used. As a result, cigarette smoke and its by-products will not be produced.
Thus, herbal heated sticks will not expose users to the toxins associated with cigarette smoke so they may help reduce the risk of smoking-related harms for adult smokers who completely switch from combusted cigarettes.
As for the ingredients, herbal heated sticks do not use real tobacco, which is similar to smoked herbal cigarettes. Instead, they use natural herbs or plants as basic materials. Therefore, just like combusted herbal cigarettes, they can offer various flavors to meet everyone’s needs.
Besides, herbal heated sticks also replicate the appearance of regular cigarettes, though they are smaller in size. Therefore, herbal heated sticks are also called mini-cigarettes.
Additionally, herbal heated sticks imitate smoking behaviors, which enables users to get a smoking-like sensory experience, making the transition more natural.
While smoked herbal cigarettes are usually nicotine-free, herbal heated sticks offer the choice of nicotine or nicotine-free. The nicotine content of herbal heated sticks is usually comparable to that of regular cigarettes.
In this regard, herbal heated sticks can help smokers kick their tobacco addiction more effectively than herbal cigarettes because they can help smokers overcome nicotine dependence, which is the biggest challenge for smokers to quit smoking.
Some popular herbal heated stick brands include Genmist, Unicco, NEAFS, CCOBATO, tqs flavor, etc., The manufacturers in this field are committed to developing innovative products to meet the needs of a wider range of users.
Take Neafs as an example, which is a brand of tea-based herbal heated sticks. Neaf heated sticks take tea as the main basis, which is gently stepped into nicotine, natural herbs, vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, and flavorings. Meanwhile, there are also nicotine-free products to choose from.
Similar to other herbal heated sticks on the market, Neafs heated sticks offer a variety of flavor options, such as menthol, blueberry, strawberry, coffee, and mojito. But despite the rich flavors, all Neafs heated sticks are based on tobacco taste. Creating tobacco flavor without using tobacco is the unique feature of neaf heated sticks.
Additionally, as Neafs heated sticks eliminate the tobacco, they have no harsh odor or smell associated with tobacco, offering a more refreshing and pleasant tobacco experience than conventional cigarettes.
In short, Neafs heated sticks are suitable for those smokers who get used to the tobacco experience and smoking habits but also want to stay away from the harm of combustible cigarettes.
Herbal cigarettes and herbal heated sticks both copy conventional cigarettes and can help smokers quit tobacco smoking or end nicotine addiction.
However, when it comes to work science, there are essential differences between the two product types. Herbal cigarettes are burned with an open fire to create herbal smoke, which may contain toxic chemicals.
On the contrary, herbal heated sticks are heated with a heat-not-burn heating source that will not cause the products to burn, nor will it produce carbon monoxide, tar, and ash.
Therefore, compared with combusted herbal cigarettes, herbal heated sticks may be a better alternative to smoking.
But remember, both combusted herbal cigarettes and herbal heated sticks are designed for adult smokers to help them stop smoking regular cigarettes. If you don’t smoke, it is your best choice to stay away from any form of smoking.