Cigarettes with additives pollute air more: study

Fifteen chemicals increased by 20 per cent or more in air with the cigarettes

By Sonal Matharu
Published: Tuesday 20 December 2011

Cigarettes with additives do add more toxins to the air, a new study has found.

The study by a team from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California in San Francisco challenges a series of scientific papers published by scientists working with the tobacco company, Philip Morris.

The four papers published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2002 said that smoke released from cigarettes with additives do not add more toxins to the air as compared to cigarettes without additives do. It also concluded that cigarette additives including menthol are therefore safe to use.

In the new study the researchers found that 15 chemicals increased by 20 per cent or more in the air with cigarettes containing additives. These chemicals include carcinogens like arsenic, cadmium, 1,3-butadiene, lead, formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

The study tested 333 additives, including menthol, cocoa, propylene glycol, vanilla extract, glycerol, sweet orange oil and licorice extract.

“Additives are important in cigarettes because they act as nicotine carriers. Companies use various additives for better absorption of nicotine and to add a flavour to tobacco,” says Sanjay Seth, director of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (India chapter), a non-profit.

The study also found that additives lead to more total particulate matter (TPM) in the cigarette smoke. “The TPM in cigarette smoke leads to substantial increases in risk of cardiovascular disease,” it notes. It further adds, TPM exposure also contributes to ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, pre term delivery, sudden infant death syndrome, and slower wound healing.

The earlier study had concluded that the addition of commonly used ingredients did not increase the inhalation toxicity of the smoke.

“TPM comprises suspended particles in the air and are harmful for passive smokers as well. These particles are present in the air and get deposited in people’s lungs. The cigarette smoke released has carcinogens that can be more harmful,” says P C Gupta, director of Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, a non-profit in Mumbai.

In 2011, the US Food and Drug Associations’s tobacco products scientific advisory committee concluded that removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the US.

“If the additives are prohibited from being added in cigarettes, then the cigarette market will come down as additives attract the younger generation,” says Seth.


The toxic effects of cigarette additives. Philip Morris' project mix reconsidered: An analysis of documents released through litigation

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