Tobacco Additives: Cigarette engineering and nicotine addiction

In the European Union over 600 additives may be used in the manufacture of tobacco products under an extremely loose and de-centralised regulatory framework. Although tobacco additives are generally screened for their direct toxicity, there is virtually no assessment of the impact additives have on smoking behaviour or other undesirable external consequences. If a small quantity of a relatively benign substance added to a tobacco product can make the product more addictive, make it easier to start smoking or facilitate continued smoking then it may be causing great harm by ‘leveraging’ additional smoking. The additional smoking brings increased exposure to over 4,000 chemicals, including many that are highly toxic and carcinogenic. Given that over 500,000 people die prematurely in the European Union each year as a result of smoking-related disease, even a one per cent change in smoking attributable to the use of additives would have large absolute health consequences – tens of thousands of lives annually. For this reason, tobacco additives should be seen as major public health issue in their own right.