Is Smoking Vegan?

If you’ve decided to go vegan, you’re in good company. In 2023, 706,965 people signed up for Veganuary’s international vegan diet challenge. 

According to the organization, someone registered for the diet challenge every 2.4 seconds—and for good reason: when people choose the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, they cite how plant-based living is healthier because it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. 

They also note that it’s ultimately better for the environment. Perhaps most importantly, they understand that becoming vegan is a stand against animal cruelty.

Avoiding animal products can be more complicated than it seems, though, as many don’t appear to have any animal additives. Vegans have to be continuously vigilant and research if the products they use do, in fact, harm animals. 

If you’re a smoker and a vegan, you might be wondering if cigarettes are included in this list. Read the following article to discover if smoking is vegan and what other products you can use.

Is smoking vegan?

The short answer is no. At first glance, a cigarette consists only of a paper wrapper, a foam filter, and dried pieces of tobacco. 

However, each cigarette contains hundreds of additives, such as castoreum—derived from the castor sacs of male beavers—as well as honey and beeswax obtained from captive honey bees. 

Tobacco companies also use milk solids, or dried milk fat, as another additive in their cigarettes.

Ingredients aren’t where it stops, though. Cigarettes are also tested on animals. These animals are caged and connected to respirators, which force them to inhale cigarette smoke for hours on end. 

The result is manufactured addiction in the brains and bodies of the animals, and within a few months, most animals die from tumors or heart attacks. All this is done to study the long-term effects of cigarettes on humans. 

Ultimately, these products cannot be considered vegan.

Vegan products to switch to

Cigarettes aren’t vegan—but there are nicotine products that are. There’s been a significant rise in the use of nicotine alternatives in recent times. 

Nicotine alternatives offer a promising avenue for individuals seeking to break free from traditional tobacco products, which is a route vegans may choose to follow. 

From nicotine patches and gum to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), these alternatives provide users with a means to satisfy their nicotine cravings without the harmful effects of combustible tobacco.

There is some discussion about the safety and efficacy of some alternatives, such as flavored vapes. Still, smokers have found them useful in the cessation process, which makes them a viable option for vegans seeking an alternative as well. 

As research and innovation continue to advance, nicotine alternatives hold the potential to play a crucial role in combating the global tobacco epidemic and improving public health outcomes. In the short term, they could be a fix for vegans wishing to smoke.

Here are a few nicotine alternatives you can try without harming animals in the process:


In recent years, the e-cigarette has been popularized as a slightly safer alternative than the regular cigarette. It consists of a tube-like device with an electric heating system and a cartridge filled with e-liquid, a mixture of colorings, chemicals, and nicotine. 

When users vape, the liquid is heated into inhaled vapor. The device itself does not seem to be made of animal products. Many e-liquids, however, contain animal products like castoreum, and some liquid colorings come from ground-up beetles. 

Fortunately, companies like Green Velvet Cloud and Kai’s Virgin Vapor provide vegan e-liquid alternatives acquired from fruits, herbs, and berries instead.

Nicotine pouches

If you want a more convenient, discreet, and cruelty-free option, try nicotine pouches. These are small, white pouches you place between your gum and upper lip for nicotine absorption. 

Pouches are made of plant-based fibers and contain food-grade fillings and nicotine derived from the tobacco plant. 

Any sweeteners added are also sugar-free and derived from plants like cinnamon and mint, enhancing the vegan experience. All this ultimately means pouches are a great vegan option for former smokers.

Nicotine gum

Nicotine gum is just like its traditional counterpart—only with nicotine. It’s a safe option for vegans to consider: the product’s gum aspect is made of a plant-based agent, and its additives, including menthol, peppermint oil, and sodium bicarbonate, do not contain animal-derived products. 

To use nicotine gum, simply bite down on it until you feel a tingling sensation. From here, let the gum rest in your mouth as the nicotine disseminates. Once the tingle fades, you chew the gum to restart the process.

Committing to being vegan means saying goodbye to several animal-based products—and sadly, one of them is cigarettes. Use the above products instead to help you adjust to this new and healthier lifestyle.

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Written by Dr. Ganga Sapkota
Updated on April 11, 2024

A graduated medical physician with years of experience in the medical field. Working as a full-time physician in Puspanjali Hospital, Chitwan, Nepal.