After manufacturing, a cigarette contains 20% expanded tobacco (tobacco puffed with carbon dioxide to be used as a filler), tobacco leaf stems, and reclaimed tobacco.
30% is made of reconstituted tobacco. The remaining 50% is tobacco treated with sugar to help cover up nicotine’s bitter taste, and to help enhance the absorption of the nicotine in the body.
There are also thousands of chemicals used in the cigarette manufacturing process, many of which are known carcinogens.
Creating a tobacco blend of flue-cured brightleaf, burley tobacco, and oriental tobacco produces a lot of tobacco by-products. As an added economic benefit for cigarette manufacturers, this waste is processed back into forms to be used again later on in the cigarette making process.
Reconstituted tobacco (“recon”) is made from a combination of stripped tobacco leaf stems, tobacco dust swept from the floor of the factory, and expired cigarettes sent back to the processing plant to be reclaimed.
Adding Chemicals to Cigarettes
Chemicals are used in the manufacturing process of cigarette because they help with “nicotine manipulation.” Recon is treated with ammonia because it enhances the absorption of nicotine in the smoker’s body when the cigarette is smoked. Chemicals are added to the tobacco blend to also help with the burning process: without them, cigarettes would probably burn out.
Just a few of the chemicals added to cigarettes include:
- carbon monoxide
- hydrogen cyanide
- sulfuric acid
Other Cigarette Additives
Cigarette manufacturers use other additives in the tobacco blend to smooth the taste or experience of smoking. If no add-ons were included, the cigarette when smoked would be very harsh to the smoker. Additives also help define the distinct brand of cigarettes.
Some add-ons include:
- butter fat
Want to know more? Watch this History Channel video clip >