why are so many extra chemicals and things put in cigarettes?

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why are so many extra chemicals and things put in cigarettes?

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There really aren’t, those “522 dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke” claims, while technically true, are deliberately misleading.

Plants contain complex organic molecules, and any time your burn them, you are going to form a lot of different kinds of new molecules. Most of them have the potential to be dangerous in high concentrations and it makes it sound scarier if you call the natural products of combustion “chemicals”, but you would get a similar number in smoke from a campfire.

Smoking is still a terrible health risk for any number of reasons, but the “harmful chemicals” argument dishonestly implies tobacco makers are putting a bunch of weird stuff in the cigarettes when they are not.

Additives are used to make cigarettes taste:

1. better
2. more consistent from batch to batch
3. more distinctive by brand

which is about the same reason that chemicals are added to mass produced food and beverage.

As to their effects on health, I have always liked this quote from the Surgeon General of the US (circa 1985 from memory) “Burning tobacco is so noxious in itself, that putting additives in it really can’t make it any worse.” To my belief they’ve never tested nor regulated additives for pretty much this reason.

Many are unintended by products. Some of the chemicals also increase addictiveness, as nicotine as a pure substance fails to addict lab mice but once combined with other stuff becomes addicting.

While additives are used to improve taste and shelf life, most of the laundry list of chemicals you read about in smoking warnings are produced just by burning the tobacco itself. As a general rule, if you heat up any kind of organic matter, you get lots of nasty chemicals. Cigarettes aren’t much worse than any other plant matter, it’s just that most people aren’t addicted to inhaling burning hay ten times a day.

They’re not, as much as people think. The curing process (drying out the tobacco) results in a lot of stuff, but it’s not intentionally added, it’s just the natural result of leaving the tobacco to dry in optimal conditions (various naturally-occurring bacteria and such, will consume some things and produce other things – nitrosamines and lots of other chemicals).

There are other ways to cure and process tobacco – aerobic vs anaerobic, pasteurization vs fermentation, etc.

You can get vastly different results depending on how you process it, even without adding anything in.

Actually adding stuff in intentionally could be done, and might be done for flavoring or whatever, but it may be trivial compared to what comes out of the natural processing.

Then there’s the actual combustion itself, which is a chemical reaction that produces a lot of stuff that wasn’t inherently there or added before that.