Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Roll-your-own tobacco is ''more dangerous'' than
factory-made cigarettes and should be banned, says Prof Richard
Edwards, head of public health at the University of Otago's
Prof Edwards said roll-your-own tobacco was less natural and
at least as harmful as factory-rolled tobacco and
interventions were needed to encourage roll-your-own smokers
The interventions included mass media campaigns and pack
warnings to correct misinterpretations that roll-your-own
cigarettes were less hazardous and more natural.
A ''more radical move'' would be to ban the sale of loose
tobacco, Prof Edwards said.
''Given that roll-your-own is more dangerous than
factory-manufactured cigarettes, why do we allow them at all?
Why not just get rid of them?''
In New Zealand, 38% of smokers rolled their own cigarettes, a
rate much higher than anywhere else in the world, he said.
The Government should continue to tax loose tobacco more
heavily than factory-rolled tobacco, he said.
''When the Government put up the tobacco tax quite
substantially in 2010, they put it up more on roll-your-own
than factory-manufactured and I'm suggesting that is
something we might want to continue.''
The tax increase was justified because roll-your-own smokers
rolled small cigarettes to make their habit cheaper than
In New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United
Kingdom and Canada between 21% and 40% of roll-your-own
smokers believed their cigarettes were more natural and less
dangerous than factory-made cigarettes.
However, evidence revealed roll-your-own cigarettes were at
''least as hazardous'' as any other type of cigarette and had
a much greater concentration of additives than manufactured
cigarettes, Prof Edwards said.
In New Zealand the ''concentration of additives is higher in
loose tobacco at about 18%, compared with 0.5% for
factory-made cigarettes'', he said.
Evidence also revealed there was a high rate of roll-your-own
cigarette smokers in disadvantaged groups in many countries,
there being higher usage among New Zealand Maori, black South
Africans and smokers of lower socioeconomic status in
Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
In New Zealand, roll-your-own smokers were more likely to
have been diagnosed as having ''mental health, drug use and
alcohol-related disorders and to have hazardous drinking
patterns'', Prof Edwards said.