Organic strawberries.

Non-GMO chocolate chip cookies.

All-natural peanut butter.

Catchy terms like “organic” and “all-natural” are popping up everywhere on foods, beverages, and other consumable products - you’ve probably even seen brands like American Spirit selling natural cigarettes.

Are natural or organic cigarettes actually better for you? Market research is clear that seeing these buzzwords on food and product labels makes you feel better about purchasing and consuming them.

When you see healthy-sounding descriptions like natural, organic, additive-free on your cigarettes, look at them with a more critical eye: they’re definitely not healthier for you - and might actually be worse.

What do natural and organic even mean?

First, a quick history lesson. But don’t worry -- it’s really quick.

In 1990, Congress passed the Organic Food Production Act to better define and regulate the types of foods that can be described as organic. As a result, there are several rules that companies have to follow in order to label a product as organic. Among other things, products have to be grown on land free of certain pesticides, and animals cannot be given growth hormones in order for their meat to be considered organic. Producers of organic products have to be licensed and follow a variety of regulations.

So if you go to the grocery store and see something organic, you know that it’s cleared a high bar to get that label.

The term natural, on the other hand, is a lot less regulated. The FDA’s guidelines for calling something natural are simply, “nothing artificial or synthetic is included in, or has been added to, the product that would not be expected to be there.” This is a pretty broad definition, and given that enforcement can be pretty inconsistent, producers have a lot of leeway in determining whether a product is natural.

Over the last several decades, cigarette companies have used marketing language as a way to differentiate their products, using words like “light,” “mild,” and “low” to describe their products. People thought that these descriptions meant the products were healthier, or that they were consuming less smoke or other chemicals if they used a light cigarette. (They weren’t. These cigarettes were just as bad.)

As a result, cigarette companies are now subject to additional rules about what words they can and can’t use on labels and packaging, so as not to mislead consumers. About a decade ago, Congress passed a law banning cigarette companies from using words like “light,” “mild,” and “low” to describe their products.

The phrase “natural” had also been co-opted by cigarette companies over the years. In the early 2000s, the cigarette brand American Spirit came under fire for using phrases like “All-Natural, “Made with Organic Tobacco” and “100% Additive-Free” in its marketing, and placing outdoor-themed advertisements in magazines to imply that the cigarette was eco-friendly or somehow less harmful.

And it worked. A study by the Truth Initiative found that 64% of Natural American Spirit smokers thought the cigarettes were less harmful than other brands.

"Our research shows that a majority of Natural American Spirit smokers incorrectly believe that their cigarettes are safer than other cigarettes,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “The truth is they are just as dangerous as any other cigarette.”

As a result, in recent years, complaints were filed against Natural American Spirit for deceptive marketing. The FDA banned Natural American Spirit from using words like “natural” and “additive-free” in their marketing campaigns. The company was also required to add additional labels stating that Natural American Spirit cigarettes are not safer than other cigarettes.

Are organic cigarettes safer than traditional cigarettes?

In a word, no.

It won’t surprise you to know that traditional cigarettes are about as processed and unnatural as you can get. They’re designed to deliver nicotine and other chemicals into your bloodstream as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Cigarettes also contain additives like sugars, preservatives, and flavorings, all of which make them easier to smoke and extend their shelf life. If you take these things out of a cigarette to create one that is more “natural” or “additive-free,” you’re still left with all of the toxic ingredients, such as nicotine tar, ammonia, and formaldehyde, that make cigarettes truly bad for you.

And tobacco grown on an organic tobacco farm is still tobacco, and it’s just as harmful.

Some research has even found that organic or natural cigarettes might even be worse for you. A study at the University of Minnesota looked into both the ingredients and smoke from Natural American Spirit cigarettes. They found:

  • Natural American Spirit cigarettes contain similar levels of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals to other common cigarette brands;
  • The tobacco and smoke of Natural American Spirit cigarettes contain higher levels of nicotine than those typically present in other brands. This suggests they might actually be more addictive than other brands of cigarettes.

So what’s the safest or healthiest brand of cigarettes?

The safest brand of cigarettes is the one you leave on the shelf.

All cigarettes, no matter the ingredients and formulations, contain toxic chemicals and ingredients that will harm your heart and lungs, increase your risk of cancer, and cause a host of other health problems.

If you’ve decided to cut back on cigarettes, nicotine gum can be a great option - when used correctly, nicotine gum can help you by slowly cutting back how much your body craves cigarettes.

And if you’re concerned about getting the most natural option and minimizing the number of funky ingredients you’re consuming, LUCY’s products aim to be the cleanest brand of nicotine-replacement therapies. LUCY’s chew and park nicotine gum, as well as our lozenges and pouches, come in delicious flavors and contain pharmaceutical-grade nicotine and food-grade ingredients.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should not be construed as a substitute for, professional medical or health advice on any subject matter. Please consult your physician regarding any medical treatment decisions.