Vegan question: Can you be a vegan and smoke cigarettes?

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On the road to transitioning to veganism most have one product that was difficult to give up. Much of the time it's either cheese or bacon but I think there is one non-vegan product that some vegans are still using and it may be the hardest of all to kick. That product is cigarettes.

I've had quite a few debates over the question, is smoking cigarettes vegan? Many times the discussion has gotten very heated to the point that I am now reluctant to even bring up the topic. It has become an agree to disagree or pick your battles situation.

I've never been pretentious enough to suggest that someone is not vegan because they smoke cigarettes, but I do not believe that cigarettes are a vegan product. Even disregarding reports that some cigarettes may contain animal products, there is plenty of evidence supporting an argument against cigarettes being vegan.

Beginning with the harvest of the tobacco, there is direct killing of animals. Rabbits, gophers, mice and rats all get caught in the combines used for harvest and pesticides are used to kill threats to the crops. At this point I always get the "well the same can be said about vegetables" argument. To this I respond that there is no such thing as a cruelty free lifestyle and that being vegan is just less cruel. We need to get our calories and nutrients from somewhere and a vegan diet is the one that involves less death and suffering. Cigarettes offer no nutritional value, sure they make you look cool, but it is a greedy choice that contributes to the suffering of animals.

Next we have the animal testing that cigarette manufacturers perform. Dogs have been hooked up to ventilators forced to inhale smoke to study the effects on the respiratory system. Of course electrodes had to be implanted into dogs' penises to measure sexual performance, because let's face it, what good is looking cool by smoking if you can't perform later on. Vegans have thrown out makeup and cleaning products because the companies have tested on animals, cigarettes should be no different.

Additionally, we have the issue of second hand smoke. Many states have laws that ban smoking in restaurants, bars, public buildings and parks. Three of which have now banned smoking in your car if children are riding along. It is not debatable that second hand smoke is a killer, but no laws protect animals from second hand smoke. If you smoke in your car or home with your animal companions present, that doesn't seem like it fits with the vegan lifestyle.

In my mind, the bottom line is that cigarettes are not a necessity and they contribute to the suffering and killing of animals and are definitely not vegan. What say you?


Peter Godoy | @petergodoy
Peter lives in San Diego with two animal companion cats, Gremlin and Mila, and has no plans to ever leave America's Finest City. He was vegetarian for a couple months until he saw the light and became a vegan. Animal rights has become his passion. Peter enjoys reading vegan blogs and cooking vegan meals. Follow Peter on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/lanier67

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