As Town & Country Magazine noted, the cigarettes used in “Peaky Blinders” were herbal rather than nicotine-based, as are many prop smokes. Herbal cigarettes are often purported to be less unhealthy than regular ones, and without nicotine, they’re almost certainly less addictive, but research actually shows they’re not without health risks. A survey of available research published by the peer-reviewed journal ACS Omega last year claimed that herbal cigarettes that contain ingredients like mugwort, coltsfoot, and damiana increase smokers’ risk of “numerous chronic metabolic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.” Basically, the study says, we should assume burning any herb and putting it into our lungs “may affect the human body in many ways and cause serious diseases.”
Murphy seems to be acutely aware of the risks, as he recently swore off playing another smoker anytime soon, even when the cigarettes used on set are non-nicotine. “I’ve smoked so many fake cigarettes for ‘Peaky’ and this,” he told The Guardian in an interview ahead of the release of “Oppenheimer.” He continued: “My next character will not be a smoker. They can’t be good for you. Even herbal cigarettes have health warnings now.” He also noted that smoking is what killed Oppenheimer himself, as the scientist died from throat cancer in 1967.