Monday, December 27, 2010

Non-Tobacco Components of a Cigarette

Cigarette Paper

Cigarette paper is made of pure cellulose pulp from textile fibers such as flax or hemp, or from wood.  It may be porous to varying degrees, i.e. capable of letting through a stream of air that regulates how the tobacco burns. Smoke from a burning cigarette will therefore depend to a large extent on the paper characteristics.  Industry claims that cigarette paper can influence overall product performance more than any other non-tobacco component.

There are actually two components: rolling paper and tipping paper. Rolling paper provides integrity of the cigarette rod, while tipping paper serves the following purposes in cigarette production:
• Joins the filter to the cigarette body (rod).
• Provides "lip-release" mechanism.
• Decorative/custom printing for marketing and brand appeal.
• Perforations ventilate and dilute smoke.


Cigarette filters are usually made of tow or cellulose acetate. They are designed to trap nicotine and tar,   to varying degrees, as measured by the ISO standard smoking test method. Filters often provide ventilation that also reduces the nicotine and tar yield of cigarettes.  The ventilation depends on the capacity of the tipping paper, which secures the filter to the tobacco rod, to let in air through holes   whose size and number control its intensity. Air that passes through the tipping paper during a cigarette puff (together with the air that flows through the cigarette paper) dilutes the smoke and thus lowers nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide yields.  Cellulose filters remove some of the particulate phase of smoke (depending on particle size), particularly volatile nitrosamines and up to 80% of semi volatile phenols.  Charcoal filters selectively remove a range of vapor phase components.


Studies in the 1950s established that the smokers’ lung cancer risk is clearly linked to the exposure to “tar”. This observation has led to a gradual increase in the percentage of cigarettes with filter tips, which brought about declining smoke yields of cigarettes as measured in standardized machine smoking in laboratory procedures.

Over the past 50 years, many materials have been patented for use as cigarette filter tips. These include natural and synthetic foams and sponges, synthetic resins, paper in various forms, cotton, other natural fibers (e.g. silk,  flax,  corn  silk), synthetic fibers  (especially cellulose esters and ethers), absorbents  (such as granules and powders of carbon), aluminum oxides and salicylates, and fine-cut tobacco. Several other filter materials such as silicates, or filter additives have also been suggested but have never been used in commercial cigarettes. Paper, charcoal and especially cellulose acetate have generally been and continue to be the major materials used in cigarette filter tips.

Even though the average contact time of cigarette smoke passing through a 20-mm filter tip is below 0.1s, some volatile components are selectively removed from cigarette smoke by charcoal filter tips.


Side seam adhesive

A side seam adhesive is used in small amounts to secure the cigarette paper around the tobacco rod. 

Monogram Ink

A small brand identifying mark (monogram) is often printed either on the cigarette paper towards the filter end of the cigarette or on the tipping paper. The monogram is printed on the paper using a minute amount of ink which may contain, e.g., black, blue, red and/or yellow pigments.

Filter Adhesives

Filter adhesives are used both to secure the plug wrap to the filter and to secure the filter to the tobacco rod. Like side seam adhesives, filter adhesives are used in very small amounts.

Sources and Additional Information:
Tobacco, Cigarettes and Cigarette Smoke – An Overview by Geiss, O., Kotzias, D.

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