You know your cigarette contains tobacco, and you can see that it is wrapped in paper and has a filter. Did you know that little stick also contains over 599 ingredients? Once you light the cigarette, chemical reactions between the ingredients and the high temperatures of the cigarette produce smoke which contains over 4,000 chemicals. A 1989 United States Surgeon General report listed 43 carcinogenic agents in tobacco smoke along with the chemicals, but other sites put that number as high as 81 cancer causing chemicals. Humectants, adhesives, and additives that affect the cigarette’s burn-time are all part of that cigarette.
Humectants, such as propylene glycol, di-ethylene glycol and glycerol, are substances added to tobacco to control and maintain moisture and to make it taste smoother. Many smokers are turning to rolling their own cigarettes to save money over already manufactured smokes. But while the tobacco is cheaper, there are more humectants in loose tobacco to prevent it from drying out. Glycerol, whether in manufactured cigarettes or loose tobacco, decomposes into acrolein when it is heated to 280°C; a lighted cigarette burns at up to 1,000°C. Acrolein can irritate the lungs and eyes. There have been connections found between acrolein in tobacco cigarettes smoke and the risk of lung cancer. Acrolein is not on the list of cigarette ingredients.
Adhesives are used to hold the cigarette paper around the tobacco and are known as sideseam adhesives. Ethlene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) are just two of the adhesives used by tobacco companies. PVA is a component in school or white glue.
In addition to using EVA as an adhesive, it may be added to bands in the paper to slow the burn rate of the cigarette. Cigarettes that extinguish themselves if ignored are known as Fire Standards Compliant (FSC) or fire safe cigarettes. Some consumers complained FSC cigarettes have a copper or metallic taste when smoked. No long-term health effects have been published regarding the effect on humans inhaling EVA co-polymers.
The above are just a few of the many additives to cigarettes, all of which have been approved by the US Government. These additives were approved as food additives, but were not tested by burning them. Take a look at the list of cigarette ingredients. It may just make you quit smoking.