Cigarette Ingredients...what you know won't hurt you.


Cigarette ingredients are no longer a mystery. I once heard a love song back in the 90s which said what you don't know won't hurt you.

Unfortunately I can't say the same for cigarettes. In fact millions of people generation after generation have been hurt by what they don't know in cigarettes.

The tobacco industry itself is responsible for the mystery surrounding cigarette ingredients. For many years running into decades this information remained a big tobacco industry secret.

It only became public when tobacco companies under legal duress disclosed what's contained in a cigarette. Jointly they presented to the American government a list of cigarette ingredients. That's how the cat escaped from the bag.


tobacco farm[pictured: tobacco farm] Altogether the anatomy of a cigarette contains 599 additives which when burnt during the smoking pleasure produce 4000 toxins. The deadliest being nicotine and tar.

Surprisingly and to the temporary delight of those who have no agenda to quit, the 599 additives are not necessarily harmful on their own. They become lethal as the cigarette smolders away. In simplest terms its a chemical conversion that occurs.

All in all there could be more than what's actually in the public domain. Certainly some specific things have still remained a secret as to the actual brand related manufacturing and so on. These are tobacco industry business secrets perhaps worth respecting.

It is clear in tobacco growing back in the field that tens of various pesticides and chemicals are added to the crop. What these field chemicals add to the final product may never be fully known. For some this could be far fetched and perhaps worth leaving sleeping dogs lie.

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Leaving sleeping dogs to lie we can however say with certainty the main component of a cigarette is tobacco. Particular cigarette manufacturers then add other ingredients to create the distinctive flavor guided by their respective brands.

Non-tobacco material is also used such as cigarette paper and filters.

These contain own ingredients. A typical cigarette contains natural tobacco, water, a filter, cigarette paper, glue and ink.

Natural tobacco is the main ingredient in cigarettes and accounts for 62% of the weight of a filter cigarette. You may wonder how water gets to be in a dry cigarette. In fact water is naturally present in tobacco, in the filter and in the paper. Water takes the 12.5% weight chunk in a cigarette.

Typically the paper used in cigarette ingredients is manufactured elsewhere by specialists. Not as a standard rule but often three types of paper are used in the making of filter cigarettes. Taking up 8% of the total weight. The paper has its own ingredients such as cellulose, chalk, depolymerised guar gum, hydrxyethlated starch, potassium citrate, cationic starch and sodium alginate amongst others.

The paper wraps around the natural tobacco and is glued together by a special glue which accounts for about 1% of total cigarette weight. This glue is made of polyvinyl acetate and hot melt. Preservatives similar to those in tinned food or prepared food are also added to prevent the tobacco from getting moldy.

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Some but not all of the 599 cigarette additives

  • Anisyl Alcohol
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Basil Oil
  • Benzoic Acid/ Benzoin
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Bergamot Oil
  • Caffeine
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Chocolate
  • Citric Acid
  • Cubeb Oil
  • Coffee
  • Costus Root Oil

Some of the 4000 toxins in cigarettes

  • Ammonia
  • Cadmium
  • Arsenic
  • Nickel
  • Polonium-210
  • carbon monoxide
  • Lead
  • Hydrogen Cyanide


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Click on the link to read about cigarette design and manufacture.



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