They’re horrible things. But are they vegan? Or even just vegetarian?
They may contain bits and pieces of insects, so no, not if you’re a strict veg/an.
It’s also possible that pig’s blood (or rather, a part of pig’s blood) is used in the filters.
Which raises a question that’s been niggling at me for years: can crops be considered vegan if they’re fertilized with animal products such as blood or bone meal?
So then they would not be Kosher for Orthodox Jews, or Halal for Conservative Muslims?
Can anything be considered truly vegan, given that nutrients have cycled through rocks, plants, animals, back to plants, back to animals, etc. for a pretty darned long time? And what about Earth’s atmosphere, co-created by the plant and animal life that now inhabit the planet? Are we exploiting animals by using their respiratory systems to help our crops? Is corn not vegan because most of its planting and harvesting depends on farming practices that degrade animal habitat? Futhermore, many crops are fertilized by bees and other animals. In the wild, many seeds are spread by birds and such. Many grain crops, not just cigarettes, contain insect parts. The machinery that harvests the crops may kill rodents. The glue in the farmworker’s shoes might be partially from an animal source. The water used to irrigate them could be draining streams and killing fish.
There is no vegan central authority that answers these questions (though some of the annoying vegans will certainly have you believe otherwise). People are vegan for different reasons and each have to decide where to draw the line. Some might not care that animals slaughtered for other purposes have their blood used rather than wasted; some might think that any tacit approval of such nuances is the same thing as supporting wholesale animal cruelty.
That is my understanding. Of course, as the article I linked to pointed out, it’s impossible to know if your brand of cigarettes uses pig hemoglobin in their filters, because cigarette manufacturers are not required to make their ingredient lists public. They don’t all use pig hemoglobin, but many do.
If I was a Kosher observant Jew who smoked, however, I’d consider rolling my own from loose tobacco without filters. Except who knows what’s in the papers, used in the bleaching process, or in the glue? Maybe it’s just better not to smoke, eh?