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Cigarettes Contain Surprising Ingredients, Documents Reveal


Tobacco industry documents, available online, reveal that cigarettes contain a wide array of additives, some of them surprising. They include cocoa, licorice, urea, and prune juice, according to The Wall Street Journal.

As a result of litigation against tobacco manufacturers, an estimated 80 million pages of formerly secret documents have become available at One such document drawn up by a leading tobacco law firm lists 614 cigarette additives.

While cigarette formulas remain trade secrets, tobacco companies must now disclose which chemicals they add to their products, the article notes. Philip Morris lists more than 100 additives, while Reynolds lists 158 and Lorillard lists 137. Many of the additives are flavorings. Menthol, which provides a cool, minty taste, also has anesthetic effects. This helps new smokers get started, and provides a “medicinal” feeling, according to the newspaper. Sugar, which produces a milder smoke that is easier to inhale, also increases the addictive potency of the smoke.

Ammonia is added to unbind nicotine, and levulinic acid is used to increase the efficiency of nicotine binding in the brain.

Cocoa is used not only for its aroma, but also because it contains a substance called theobromine, which helps open up the lungs to “receive” smoke.

The documents also list ingredients in cigarette paper, including bleaches and glues, as well as chemicals to adjust the color of the ash.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of Philip Appel
    Philip Appel / September 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    When looking at the ingredients notice the ones that increase ‘binding’ to nicotine receptors in the brain and increase impact of inhaled smoke in the lungs–in the words of this civilian, meaning ‘increase tobacco’s addiction liability’. So, for the umpteenth time, tobacco companies are major manufacturer-dealers in addiction and death but retain honored places in our corporation-dominated culture! Hooray for death and dollars.

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