What is Cigarette Paper?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Cigarette paper is simply rolling paper that is cut into sections that are the ideal size for assembling a cigarette. This strong tissue paper is formulated to provide enough support to contain the loose tobacco during the rolling process, but porous enough to make it possible to control the speed of burning that takes place as the cigarette is smoked.

Some smokers enjoy rolling their own cigarettes with loose tobacco and cigarette papers.
Some smokers enjoy rolling their own cigarettes with loose tobacco and cigarette papers.

Roll-your-own cigarettes once enjoyed a great deal of popularity. Smokers would purchase one of several high quality blends of tobacco and use it as filler for their own cigarettes. A line of tobacco was placed near one end of the smoking paper and then rolled into a cylinder. Wetting the closing end of the paper with a small amount of saliva provided a simple seal that would prevent the tobacco from falling out when the cigarette was smoked.


While mass-produced cigarettes control the majority of the tobacco market, it is still relatively easy to obtain good quality loose tobacco and cigarette paper. The paper is sometimes sold in a small box, with each individual sheet placed in a stack. It is also possible to obtain cigarette in a flip top book that is not unlike the design of a matchbook. Smoking paper in this form is usually bound in the book, making it necessary for a sheet of paper to be gently torn out for use.

Cigarette paper ensures the cigarette burns at a good pace.
Cigarette paper ensures the cigarette burns at a good pace.

Purchasing the paper is relatively easy, and many supermarkets still carry containers of loose tobacco and rolling papers in the tobacco section of the store. Over the years, a number of tobacco stores have opened in many cities and towns as well that carry a wide line of cigars and cigarettes, as well as different flavors and strengths of loose tobacco. Cigarette paper is usually available at any retail outlet that sells loose tobacco.

Unlike commercial cigarettes, a cigarette made with cigarette paper and loose tobacco does not include a filter of any kind. For people who have never smoked an unfiltered cigarette, the taste may be extremely strong, even if a mild tobacco is used. Those who enjoy unfiltered cigarettes may find that rolling their own enhances the satisfaction obtained from smoking.

Cigarette papers are also used to illicitly smoke marijuana.
Cigarette papers are also used to illicitly smoke marijuana.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Indeed, in Europe the trend of rolling your own cigarettes is on the rise, especially among the young. We do employ the use of filters, however, and do not smoke unfiltered cigarettes.

The reasons, as stated, are obvious, although many actually could afford pre-rolled cigarettes. Another reason for this is also people thinking that if they roll their own cigarettes it's somehow healthier, which of course isn't the case.


I tried rolling cigarettes once. It was so stressful that I puffed through about three Marlboros trying to get it right.


I'm more of a fan of Rizla or OCB cigarette paper -- for me, they're easier to roll, and you get a cleaner burn. To each his own, though.


There really are a lot of different kinds of modern options for people who want to roll their own.

For instance, some companies offer cigarette paper tubes, and they even have transparent cigarette paper.

My top cigarette paper is always Zig Zag or Bambu cigarette paper - it's just a matter of personal preference, but for some reason I like those the best.


Although cigarette rolling and cigarette machines have mostly gone out of fashion in America, some younger people still buy and roll their own for the "cool" value.

In Europe, as the commenter below me said, rolling your own cigarettes is essentially an economic necessity. You rarely see any smoker without their tobacco pouch and cigarette rolling papers -- it's simply too expensive to buy pre-rolled cigarettes.


Rolling cigarettes by hand or with a small device is still very popular all over Europe. It is cheaper than pre-made cigarettes.

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