Smoking papers, available in a range of shapes and sizes, were devised at the turn of the sixteenth century. Explorers of the New World were bringing cigars back to Europe, and smoking instantly became a fashionable habit—and an expensive one, since the tobacco couldn’t be cultivated in Europe. Thus, no part of the cigar was ever wasted; leftover bits of tobacco were rolled up into pieces of newspaper, and smoking papers were born.
Since then, the smoking paper has evolved, but the function remains the same. Gone are the days of coarse bits of newspaper – today, smoking papers, produced largely in France and Spain, are available in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Smoking papers are typically created from hemp, wood, or rice pulp, since these ‘finer’ elements result in a smooth, thin smoking paper. Alternately, flax, commonly used to produce smoking papers in China, produces a thicker, rougher smoking paper.
As traditional pre-rolled cigarettes grow more and more expensive, smoking papers have increased worldwide in popularity. A 2005 New Zealand study found that 50 percent of smokers there chose to roll their own cigarettes. Smoking papers are available around the world; thousands of varieties exist, and anyone with an Internet connection can browse smoking papers online. Remember: smoking papers – though sometimes considered marijuana accessories – do not contain illegal substances.
Consumers should know that most smoking papers available today are whitened with chlorine, although there are alternatives: organic, unbleached smoking papers can be found online or at specialty smoke shops. And if you’re in the market for a special treat, consider Shine Rolling Papers, 24-carat-gold smoking papers designed so that the gold becomes part of the ash, and is never inhaled.
Remember: you have to be eighteen to purchase smoking papers in the United States.