Do Cigarettes Expire? Is an old Cigarette smokable?

“Do cigarettes expire?” You might wanna laugh out loud if “some health-conscious” smoker would ask you this question. But it is a genuine question that arises in minds of both smokers as well as non-smokers. Often times we see some old pack with one or two cigarettes left within. One wonders whether they are smokable.

Moreover, there is no expiry date mentioned on the box. That probably means cigarettes do not expire.

Well, a short answer is, cigarettes go stale and even in some cases they expire too.

What do we mean by stale and expired cigarettes? Is it ok to smoke them?

Let’s dive deep and find out the differences between fresh and expired cigarettes. Moreover, what sort of additional health issues do stale or expired cigarettes can cause?

Why isn’t any expiry date mentioned on the Cigarette box?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stopped tobacco companies from mentioning the expiry dates on the packaging.

The reason being the expiry date makes it seem that cigarettes are fit for smoking before the expiry date. However, the reality is whether we smoke a fresh cigarette or an expired one, both are injurious to health.

A cigarette – whether fresh, stale or expired – would cause skin problems, cancer, heart and lung diseases, diabetes, fertility issues as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In short, no mention of the expiry date does not make cigarettes safe to smoke.

Why do cigarettes become stale or expire?

In a packed and unopened box of cigarettes, tobacco stays fresh for around two years. Once the box is opened, cigarettes start undergoing some changes when they are exposed to air.

Newly produced cigarettes and tobacco contain oil and resins that keep them fresh by retaining moisture. Once we open the box and expose cigarettes to oxygen, they start losing moisture and become stale as time passes.

Moreover, you will also notice that stale cigarettes burn faster than fresh ones. This is because when exposed to air for longer, the cigarette’s paper burn pattern changes.

Difference between a Stale and Fresh Cigarette

How to know whether a particular cigarette is stale or fresh? A cigarette is stale if it has the following properties.

  • Stale cigarettes would feel harsh to inhale and exhale, thus making smoking them difficult.
  • They would be unpleasant and sharp in taste.
  • Old cigarettes often have yellow or dark brown spots on them as an indication. These spots are caused by the moisture drawing out of the tobacco.
  • They will smell unpleasant and dull.
  • Their tobacco is dried out due to long exposure to the air. If the tobacco falls out by simply rolling the cigarette between fingers, that cigarette is stale.

When does a stale cigarette expire?

Something is expired and not suitable for consumption when it is subjected to change in its properties. That change should cause damage when that thing is consumed.

In the case of stale cigarettes, we can still smoke them. Of course, they won’t smell or taste the same as a fresh one does. But, they might not cause any additional damage than a fresh cigarette does to our health.

Is it OK to smoke an expired cigarette?

However, we cannot be sure whether a particular cigarette is just stale or is expired too.

Cigarettes have tobacco inside them. Tobacco is made of dried leaves. A stale cigarette has a tendency to catch fungus or mold when it is exposed to humidity without proper temperature control.

Indeed, smoking a moldy cigarette will surely cause some instant additional damage. Such cigarettes are not only stale but also expired as they are no more smokable.

An expired cigarette will cause the following problems:

  • An expired cigarette might cause coughing and nausea. One might feel like throwing up.
  • Smoking moldy tobacco can cause sinuses.
  • Expired cigarettes are life-threatening. They can cause lung infection and inflammation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do cigarettes expire?

Cigarettes do not really expire, but they do go stale. However, we can call one expired if it catches fungus.

Is it OK to smoke an expired cigarette?

No, one must not smoke an expired cigarette as it would cause some instant and serious health issues due to moldy tobacco.

About the author


A versatile human being with a passion for reading and writing - always striving for growth, living in the moment but trying to keep pace with the evolving world.

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