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Additive free cigarettes

Some people are being encouraged to switch to additive free cigarettes as a means of making smoking less addictive and thus easier to quit. This video discusses how this tactic is likely pushing people to using cigarettes that have a much higher addictive potential than the brands they may already be smoking.

Information originally posted in the string “A safer way to smoke” at the Freedom from Nicotine board:

For people who think additive free cigarettes must be a safer alternative. Here is an blurb from a site that sells cigarettes describing the brand American Spirit Cigarettes:

American Spirit

Additive Free Tobacco. The Tobacco used in Natural American Spirit Cigarettes is 100% free of additives, containing only whole leaf natural tobacco… no preservatives, no reconstituted sheet tobacco, no processed stems and no expanded tobacco. Light 5 mg Tar 0.6 mg Nicotine. Regular 12 mg Tar 1.6 mg Nicotine TOBACCO SERIOUSLY DAMAGES HEALTH

Following are a few articles talking about the safety and addictive quality of this very same brand:

The Tobacco Additives that Keep You Hooked

by Rosie Waterhouse

Additives in cigarettes may make some brands far more addictive than others, according to research. For the first time, scientists have measured the amount of super-addictive “freebase” nicotine cigarettes deliver to the smoker. Like crack cocaine, freebase nicotine vaporises and passes rapidly through the lungs into the bloodstream. Because it reaches the brain so quickly it is thought to be more addictive than normal nicotine. The research, by a team at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, could lead to ways of rating the addictiveness of different brands.

Scientists compared 11 brands available in America. They found that some contained 10 to 20 times higher percentages of freebase nicotine than experts had previously believed. Brands were compared with a laboratory “reference” cigarette containing 1% freebase nicotine. They varied greatly, ranging from 1% or 2% to 36% for a specialty US brand called American Spirit. Marlboro contained up to 9.6% freebase nicotine. Other well known brands included Camel (2.7%), Winston (5% to 6.2%) and Gauloises Blondes (5.7% to 7.5%).

Professor James Pankow, who led the study, reported in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, said: “During smoking, only the freebase form can volatise from a particle into the air in the respiratory tract. Since scientists have shown that a drug becomes more addictive when it is delivered to the brain more rapidly, freebase nicotine levels in cigarette smoke thus are at the heart of the controversy regarding the tobacco industry’s use of additives like ammonia and urea, as well as blending choices in cigarette design.”

A 1997 study led by Prof Pankow linked ammonia additives with increased freebase nicotine levels in cigarettes. He found that on its own, nicotine would not be very potent in the body but ammonia strips away protons from surrounding molecules including nicotine, making it more rapidly absorbed. The 1997 research confirmed assertions made by the American Food and Drug Administration that widespread use of ammonia compounds in cigarettes manufacturing was evidence that the industry manipulated the delivery of nicotine in tobacco products.

Professor Jack Henningfield, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, said: “It appears likely that ingredients used in modern cigarette manufacture, such as ammonia and urea, account for this addiction-enhancing effect.”

Professor Pankow said that in the United States there were no formal tobacco industry or Food and Drug Administration guidelines on appropriate levels of freebase nicotine in cigarettes. But the message from the industry was that cigarettes contained only small percentages of freebase nicotine. Only additives on a permitted list from the Department of Health are allowed in cigarettes made in Britain. A spokesman for the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association in the UK said: “Cigarettes manufactured here do abide by the permitted list and may be quite different from those in America.”

A spokesman for Phillip Morris, the maker of Marlboro, said: “Ammonia is a compound naturally present in tobacco leaf. Quite simply, there is no safe cigarette. No one cigarette is any more or less harmful or addictive than another. All cigarettes and their smoke are harmful and addictive. It is entirely inappropriate to start communicating to consumers that there are distinctions in terms of harm or addictiveness between various brands of cigarettes. If consumers are concerned about the harm or addictiveness of smoking they should quit.”

Three men who featured as the most famous character in tobacco advertising – the horse-riding Marlboro Man – have died from smoking-related illnesses: David Millar Jr in 1987 from emphysema, Wayne McLaren in 1992 after lung cancer spread to his brain, and David McLean in 1995 from lung cancer.

Source: 28 July 2003

Release Date: Dec. 3, 2002


Despite perceptions that additive-free cigarettes and the hand-rolled cigarettes from India called bidis may provide a less-toxic smoke than conventional cigarettes, new research suggests the opposite may be true.

Study results published in the December issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research examine several physiological and subjective factors among regular smokers who were asked to smoke both bidis and additive-free American Spirit cigarettes in a controlled test.

“Recently, there has been an increase in the use of alternative cigarettes such as bidis, cloves and additive-free cigarettes by adolescents,” said lead researcher Wallace Pickworth of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. “In the Boston area, for example, 40 percent of teenagers had smoked bidis at least once in their lifetime and 16 percent were current bidi smokers. About 13 percent of the sample thought bidis were safer than conventional cigarettes.”

Aside from perceptions that they are a lesser health risk than conventional cigarettes, bidis may also be popular with adolescents because they are manufactured in a variety of flavors, such as chocolate or root beer. Bidis are also generally less expensive than cigarettes and easier for youths to purchase, Pickworth said.

For the study, Pickworth and his team asked 10 research volunteers – 24.5 years old on average and considered “healthy smokers” – to smoke an unfiltered, additive-free American Spirit cigarette, a strawberry-flavored bidi, a non-flavored bidi and one of the participants’ own preferred brands of conventional cigarette.

During each session, the researchers measured participants’ plasma nicotine and exhaled carbon monoxide. Researchers also recorded the length of time participants took to smoke a cigarette or bidi, and the number of puffs. After smoking, participants completed questionnaires about each product.

Results showed that two minutes after smoking the unfiltered, additive-free American Spirit cigarette or either type of bidi, participants’ plasma nicotine levels were significantly higher than when they smoked their own cigarettes. The high nicotine levels lasted longest with the American Spirit cigarette.

Measured levels of exhaled carbon monoxide were less consistent. Researchers measured these levels 15 minutes after participants finished smoking each sample. Exhaled carbon monoxide levels dropped below those of the participants’ own cigarette brands 15 minutes after smoking the American Spirit cigarette and the unflavored bidi. The strawberry-flavored bidi, however, left participants exhaling higher amounts of carbon monoxide than with their preferred brands.

“Data from this study were collected in a single exposure to alternative cigarettes in a laboratory environment,” Pickworth granted. “The sample size was small, predominantly male and restricted to those over 18 years of age, and included only occasional bidi smokers. These characteristics may have influenced smoking patterns and subjective estimates and may limit the generalizability of the results.

“Nevertheless,” he adds, “the results indicate that, contrary to the belief of many consumers, bidi and additive-free cigarettes deliver substantial amounts of nicotine and other toxic components of tobacco smoke.”

This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Studies Show Bidis And Smoking Products Are No Safer Than Conventional Cigarettes

Studies published over the past several months disprove claims that products such as additive-free cigarettes, bidis, and novel cigarette-like devices are less toxic than conventional cigarettes.

A study published in the December 2002 issue of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research examined the effects of bidis–hand-rolled cigarettes from India–and additive-free American Spirit cigarettes. Bidis are popular with adolescents because many perceive them to be less of a risk to health than regular cigarettes, and because they are manufactured in a variety of flavors, such as chocolate or root beer.

For the study, lead investigator Dr. Wallace Pickworth from the NIDA Intramural Research Program asked 10 volunteers to smoke an unfiltered, additive-free American Spirit cigarette, a strawberry-flavored bidi, a non-flavored bidi, and one of the subjects’ own brand of conventional cigarette.

After smoking the American Spirit cigarette or either type of bidi, the participants’ blood nicotine levels were higher than when they smoked their own brand. Higher amounts of carbon monoxide were exhaled after smoking the strawberry-flavored bidi, but exhaled carbon monoxide levels were lower for the American Spirit cigarette and the unflavored bidi than for the volunteers’ own cigarette brands.

Cigarette Products Marketed As Less Toxic Found to be Ineffective

A second study, published in the November 2002 issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, evaluated a clinical laboratory model for assessing whether potential reduced-exposure products (PREP) do reduce smokers’ exposure to lethal constituents of smoke and whether they adequately suppress withdrawal symptoms. In this study, Philip Morris’ Accord and R. J. Reynolds’ Eclipse, both marketed as less harmful smoking systems, were used as examples.

The investigators found that, relative to normal cigarettes, Accord was less effective at suppressing withdrawal and produced minimal carbon monoxide boost despite the fact that when using Accord, smokers took bigger and longer puffs than with conventional cigarettes. Eclipse fully suppressed withdrawal and increased carbon monoxide levels by 30 percent. Accord delivered about one-half and Eclipse about three-fourths the nicotine of the subjects’ own cigarette brand.

The researchers concluded that neither Accord nor Eclipse is likely to be effective in reducing exposure to the harmful constituents of cigarette smoke.

Dr. Thomas Eissenberg from the Virginia Commonwealth University headed the research team.

A study conducted by the same research team published in the December 2002 issue of the journal Tobacco Control, was similar to the Eclipse/Accord study, but used another product known as Advance. Advance is marketed as a product that will help smokers reduce their intake of some carcinogens and toxic gases.

The investigators found that Advance produced similar withdrawal suppression and heart rate increase, 11 percent less carbon monoxide, and 25 percent more nicotine when compared to the light or ultra-light cigarette brands smoked by 20 volunteers.

WHAT IT MEANS: Despite manufacturers’ claims and the perception of some users, low-smoke smoking devices, bidis, and non-additive cigarettes touted to reduce the harmful components of cigarette smoke are not effective, and may not reduce the death and disease associated with tobacco use. On the contrary, some of these devices might promote heavier smoking and may introduce new risks not currently associated with cigarette smoking, including the potential of inhaling harmful elements such as glass fibers used in the manufacture of some low-smoke products.

This story has been adapted from a news release issued for journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to quote any part of this story, please credit NIH/National Institute On Drug Abuse as the original source.

Article discussing Marlboro’s early use of using ammonia to increase the addictive nature of nicotine:

Also related:

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Reformatted 06/27/18 by John R. Polito