What is in Your Cigarette?

October 24th, 2012 00:00

Cigarettes look quite simple, just consisting of paper tubes possessing crumbled tobacco leaf, most often with a filter in the end of the cigarette.

However, cigarettes are rather engineered products, intended to give a significant dose of nicotine.

Usually a cigarette contains a mixture of two most used tobacco leaves: Virginia or Flue-cured tobacco, which is also known as bright tobacco, as it has a yellow to orange color. It possesses 2-3% of nicotine. And the last is Burley tobacco, which is a bit lighter in color than Virginia and has a higher nicotine content of about 3.5-4%.

US blends also contain more than 10% of imported Oriental tobacco, which is the smallest and hardiest of all tobaccos and contains less than 2% of nicotine.

Cigarette manufacturers declared

Besides the leaf blend, a cigarette has a filter that is produced from the stems and some tobacco bits. Filter is usually mixed with water and other flavoring substances. The frequency of filters depends on the manufacturer and brands.

For instance, a cigarette with a filter makes smoking process easier, reducing the amount of tar. Additives are used by cigarette producers to make tobacco products more attractive to consumers.

Among the most spread additives are: diverse moisturizers, which are intended to prolong period of validity; sugars to make the smoke softer and easier to inhale; and flavorings as cherry, vanilla, chocolate and many others.

As about nicotine and tar delivery it differs depending on the type of paper used in the cigarette. For instance, a more porous paper will let through a higher amount of air, diluting the smoke and decreasing the level of tar and nicotine reaching the smoker’s lungs.

Nowadays filters are made of cellulose acetate and hold some amount of the tar and smoke particles from the inhaled smoke. Filters have also a cooling property, which is mostly suitable for first time smokers, who are not accustomed with cigarette smoke.

The first cigarette with filter appeared in 1950 in response to the numerous claims that smoking was dangerous to health. Cigarette manufacturers declared that their filtered brands had lower amount of tar than non-filtered versions and stated that they are safer.

Cigarette smoke is composed of a side-stream smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette and mainstream smoke from the mouth end.

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