Tobacco companies engineer high addiction cigarettes with additives

Tobacco companies have added chemicals to cigarettes to increase the addictiveness of nicotine and keep smokers hooked.A new joint report by ASH, Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the US State of Massachusetts reveals over sixty tobacco industry documents dealing with the use of additives in cigarettes [1]. Over 600 tobacco additives are permitted in the UK. These include ammonia,pyridine and sugars which break down to acetaldehydes – each has a pharmacological impact.

Dr Martin Jarvis of Imperial Cancer Research Fund and a co-author of the report said: “Outside the tobacco industry,no-one knows which additives are used in which brands. The tobacco companies’ excuse for using additives is that they make low tar cigarettes easier to smoke. We know that low tar cigarettes are just as bad for you as regular cigarettes, so using additives can not be justified. As some additives can make cigarettes more addictive, tobacco companies are making it even harder for those smokers wanting to quit, to succeed.”

Clive Bates, co-author of the report and Director of ASH, said: “We have uncovered a scandal in which tobacco companies deliberately use additives to make their bad products even worse. Without telling anyone,they have been free-basing nicotine and engineering subtle changes to the brain chemistry of the smoker. The idea of taking an addictive product and making it more addictive is extremely disturbing. It is basically a further invasion of the freedom not to smoke, if you don’t want to.”

The US State of Massachusetts has forced tobacco companies to disclose which additives are used in which brands and why. The industry has responded by suing. Dr Gregory Connolly, Director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program, is also a co-author and is in London for the launch. He said:”The tobacco industry’s documents raise serious questions about the way they have engineered cigarettes to be more addictive. We are starting to hold them to account in Massachusetts, and they really don’t like it. No-one should be doing anything to tobacco products that adds to the already unacceptable health burden – and we are determined to stop them even if it means fighting them in court.”

Dr Connolly will be guest speaker at a meeting of experts and Government officials on Wednesday afternoon.



[1] Tobacco Additives: cigarette engineering and nicotine addiction, ASH, Imperial Cancer Research Fund. 14th July 1999