Developing tobacco products

All about tobacco

Smoke, tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide

In many countries around the world, tar (goudron, teer, kondensat, etc.) and nicotine measurements are printed on cigarette packs as a weight in milligrams (mg) from each cigarette. In some countries, carbon monoxide (CO) measurements also appear. These measurements vary according to the blend of tobacco and the design of the cigarette. It is often the case that tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields are subject to declaration and/or regulatory limits.

What is tobacco smoke?

Tobacco smoke is an extremely complex mixture of at least 4,000 known constituents which are either in tobacco or created when a tobacco product is burned.

What is tar?

Tar is not present in tobacco, but arises from tobacco being burned. It is defined as the fraction of smoke collected on a filter pad in the laboratory under specified conditions.

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is a substance which occurs naturally in the tobacco plant and becomes a constituent of tobacco smoke. It can be found in other plants, although at much lower levels than in tobacco.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas which is formed by the incomplete burning of organic material.

How are tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide measured?

A laboratory smoking machine is used to 'smoke' a number of cigarettes by an internationally recognised standard method. The smoke from cigarettes contains many tiny particles which are collected on a special filter pad, while the gases pass through the pad to allow the separate measurement of carbon monoxide. The residue of particles on the pad, including nicotine and water, is measured. The nicotine and water are then extracted and measured. The tar yield for printing on the cigarette pack is calculated by subtracting the amounts of nicotine and water from that originally collected on the filter pad.

Ingredients

Some ingredients may be added to tobacco products during manufacture for various reasons. Flavourings and other ingredients typically used in food are included in some brands to contribute to their individual distinctive taste or aroma. We do not add anything to our products in order to make it more difficult to stop smoking, or to make them attractive to children.

The term ingredient also applies to substances in non-tobacco materials used to make a cigarette. These include the cigarette paper, the adhesive that seals the paper, and the inks that colour the tipping.

It is our policy to assess the appropriateness and acceptability of all ingredients prior to use. We have procedures in place to ensure that only internally approved ingredients are used in the manufacture of our products.

A number of governments regulate the ingredients which may be added to tobacco products and we comply fully with those regulations. Even in countries where no regulations exist, we make sure that we conform to similar standards.

Research

Our current scientific programmes are undertaken to improve our knowledge of tobacco and smoking, so that we can develop products that may meet the future demands and expectations of consumers and regulatory bodies. The programmes allow us to assess the constituents of tobacco smoke and its biological activity.

Some of our main working areas are:

  • tobacco ingredients: including information provision
  • tobacco analysis
  • smoke analysis

We discuss our laboratory findings with public health bodies, regulatory authorities, and other scientists. We also monitor and assess scientific developments and consider how to incorporate innovations into our products.

Safety

We believe that no one should regard cigarettes as safe. No government authority anywhere has set criteria by which some cigarettes can be regarded as safer than others. The relevant government authorities should agree objective criteria and predictive tests by which they can judge products to have potentially reduced risk.

Dialogue is needed between government authorities and industry experts to define what these objective criteria and predictive tests might be. The results must be capable of communication to consumers.

We believe it is only when these criteria are in place, that we can, with any confidence, focus our efforts on developing the next generation of products and offer them to the smoking public.

We continue to seek dialogue on this topic.

News