Additives in Tobacco Products

Nearly all commercial tobacco products contain chemical additives. As long ago as the sixteenth century, Spanish sailors applied licorice water to tobacco as a preservative. 

Today, both cigarette and smokeless tobacco manufacturers publicly acknowledge the use of hundreds of additives in their products. The modern cigarette contains about 10 percent additives by weight, mostly in the form of sugars, humectants, ammonia compounds, cocoa, and licorice.

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Smokeless tobacco likewise incorporates moisteners, sweeteners, and flavors such as cherry juice. These additives may affect the flavor of the product, sensory properties such as smoothness and impact, and other important product characteristics.

 Role of Additives in Cigarettes

The flavor of tobacco is primarily determined by the tobacco leaf blend, while additives are used to modify or enhance tobacco flavor characteristics.

Menthol is the only commonly recognized tobacco flavor category, although vanilla, cherry, orange, and other product flavors have been introduced commercially.

Most additives are used in very small amounts-less than .01 percent of total weight. As a result, although the cumulative effect of additives on tobacco flavor may be significant, it is often difficult or impossible to assess the impact of specific flavorants.

Additives perform a number of roles in addition to altering product flavors. 

Some additives demonstrate properties that significantly alter product chemistry. A number of additives in both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products are used for modification of "smoke pH," which is a measure of its acid/base chemistry.