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Tobacco Control

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Cigarette smoke -- Composition


Background Tobacco companies are offering cigarettes with ‘concept’ descriptor names that suggest sensation and/or flavour properties (eg, Marlboro ‘Velvet Fusion’). Little has been known about the identities and levels of flavour chemicals in such cigarettes.

Methods Thirty-three filter cigarette variants from 27 packs (including two sampler packs with four variations each) from Canada and Mexico were analysed (rod + filter) for 177 flavour chemicals plus triacetin, a filter plasticiser and possible flavourant. Five brands of US mentholated filter cigarettes were also analysed.

Results Twenty-seven of the 33 cigarettes (all were Mexican variants) were categorised as ‘menthol-plus’: significant menthol (3.0–11.9 mg/cigarette), plus varying amounts (0.32–3.4 mg/cigarette) of total other flavour chemicals (TOFCs) (excludes triacetin). For 10 of the 27, TOFCs >1.0 mg/cigarette. For 7 of the 27, the TOFCs profile was categorised as containing total fruit flavour compounds (TFFCs) >1.0 mg/cigarette. One Mexican variant was categorised as ‘menthol-only’ (TOFCs ≤0.15 mg/cigarette). All menthol-plus and menthol-only cigarettes contained one or two optional-crush capsules in their filters (crushed prior to analysis). All five Canadian brand variants were ‘non-flavoured’. All five US brand variants were ‘menthol-only’.

Conclusions All but one of the ‘concept’ descriptor cigarettes from Mexico were ‘menthol-plus’. While the Canadian cigarettes complied with Canada’s flavour chemical ban, concept descriptors on the packs may increase appeal. Given the scale of the problem posed by menthol alone, health officials seeking to decrease the appeal of smoked tobacco should examine the extent to which ‘concept descriptor’ cigarettes using ‘menthol-plus’ flavour profiling together with artful descriptors are furthering the problem of smoked tobacco.


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