Is nictotine added to cigarettes?

Nicotine is a natural product found in tobacco. But do tobacco companies add nicotine to cigarettes? How much nictotine is added to cigarettes? More here.

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We do not know. There is no current public list of tobacco additives.

But what we do know is that increasing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes is in the best interest of Big Tobacco corporations.  Big Tobacco wants you to treat signs of nicotine withdrawal with more nicotine!  And we also know that tobacco companies used to add nicotine to tobacco in the past. We explore more about nicotine additives in cigarettes here.

Enriched nicotine cigarettes

Big Tobacco wants you to be addicted to nicotine. But to what lengths have they gone to add nicotine to cigarettes? Cigars addictive nicotine levels may be surprisingly high (as much nicotine in one cigar as a pack of cigarettes) but there is one difference.  Cigars tend to have less additives of nicotine.  Here’s what we know of nicotine additives in cigarettes from the past.

First, they discovered that the potential for increased nicotine delivery or increased speed of nicotine delivery can be based on cigarette design features such as filter vents, pH, and the total nicotine content of the tobacco. And then they ran with it.

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In 1963 American Tobacco Company (ATC) consultants recommended impregnating a carbon tip with nicotine to transfer 22% of added nicotine to the smoke. They also tried adding nicotine citrate to reconstituted tobacco to triple its nicotine content, And 11 years later, in 1974 ATC added nicotine to tobacco extract which is applied to reconstituted tobacco, doubling the nicotine content of the reconstituted tobacco. In as many ways as tobacco companies can think of, they have or will try to increase nicotine to cigarettes. These include:

  • adding nicotine to the “dip casing”
  • adding nicotine to “finishing flavor”
  • adding nicotine to reconstituted tobacco
  • changes in tobacco blend
  • putting nicotine in a filter tip

Plus, cigarettes have added constituents

And just to paint an accurate picture, tobacco companies can include added constituents to their cigarettes. What is an added constituent, you may ask? An added constituent to cigarettes means any ingredient, substance, chemical or compound other than tobacco, water or reconstituted tobacco sheet, which is added by the manufacturer to the tobacco, paper or filter of a cigarette or the tobacco of a smokeless tobacco product during the processing, manufacture, or packing of the cigarette or smokeless tobacco product. I think that you get the point – there is a lot that Big Tobacco can add. Just as long as they report it.

Nicotine additives and the law

The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (FCLAA), Public Law 89–92, and Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act (CSTHEA), Public Law 99–252, require CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health to collect, store, and analyze the list of ingredients added to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. These lists remain confidential and are not shared with the public.

Also, the FDA is responsible for implementing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), which gives the agency the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products. Some of the FDA’s responsibilities under the law include setting tobacco product standards. So will the FDA try to reduce nicotine levels in products?

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They don’t know yet. In fact, the FDA has not yet evaluated this issue. The Tobacco Control Act allows the FDA to establish tobacco product standards such as nicotine yields if they protect public health. However, The Tobacco Control Act specifically states that FDA is prohibited from requiring the reduction of the nicotine yields of a tobacco product to zero.

Is nicotine added to smokes?

In sum, we don’t know if nicotine is added to cigarettes at the moment. But it’s a rather obvious assumption that they do. What’s your opinion

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Reference sources:  CDC Tobacco ingredient and nicotine reporting
Pharmacological and Chemical Effects of Cigarette Additives
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. You can find a list of all the additives found in a commercial cigarette here:

    You will find that there are 599 listed additives put out by 5 of the major well known tobacco companies back in 1994. Are there more today or less? That is unknown at this time. However, it will kind of make you cringe that when a cigarette burns… it releases 4,000 chemical compounds. Unfortunately, there is no list of these compounds and what effect it has on a persons health. I’m thinking that if Ammonia is one of those additives, that isn’t a good thing! For me, I have switched to RYO (roll your own). Not only can I make a carton for 16.00 but, no additives! We all know that continuing to inhale smoke of any kind is not good for you but, having a lot less of a bad thing in your respiratory system sure helps. I have a way smoother smoke, no cigarette cough and I continue to enjoy smoking.

  2. Hi Patrick. Yes, I feel the same. Greed motivates people to take actions that hurt others…without much thought. It is my wish that cigarette manufacturers, alcohol manufacturers and pharmaceutical manufacturers experience the prick of consciousness which allows them to see that their products harm others.

  3. Very interesting article about the legal case of Philip Morris. Waste tobacco products are pulped and sheeted then mixed with premium tobacco. Moriss says nicotine added to the sheet tobacco is the nicotine that floated,out when it was wet. Morris did not say if they added a little extra nicotine however.

    Employees testaments about daily work methods, ie,whats done to the cigarettes and whats not, conflict strongly with upper management testimony… it likely to be upper managements or ordinary workers who hide the truth.

    Do Philip Morris’s cigarettes contain more nicotine than the tobacco plant produced…my guess is yes. Is this provable – not without the cooperation of Philip Morris’s executives….are they to be trusted..see above!!!

  4. Various studies about the impact of nicotine or tobacco smoke? Because I think that we can all agree (wink, wink tobacco seller) that smoking tobacco is harmful. Right?

  5. The Tobacco Control Act really states that the FDA is prohibited from imposing the elimination of nicotine in cigarettes. Though there are various studies regarding the matter, most are still unproven. Since smoking is already a part of our society’s lifestyle, the authorities will continuously faces challenges eliminating this habit.

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