Nicotine, Tar and Carbon Monoxide Content of Menthol versus Non-Menthol Cigarettes

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It seems like every paper you read that looks at menthol cigarettes notes that these cigarettes tend to be higher in nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide when compared to non-mentholated cigarettes. The purpose of this exercise was to look at the actual data and determine if the above statement is correct. The data source for Tables 2 and 3 was the Federal Trade Commission Report (FTC) report entitled "Report of Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1206 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes For the Year 1994."




Prior to looking at Tables 2 and 3 it's interesting to look at the table below obtained from a Consumer Reports March 1957 that looks at the nicotine and tar levels of both menthol and non-menthol cigarettes. The report was published right around the time that health experts began arguing that reducing the tar content of cigarettes was likely to reduce the risk of lung cancer. The tobacco cigarette after remaining virtually unchanged for three decades, tar and nicotine levels (sales-weighted) dropped nearly 40% between mid-1957 and the end of 1959. Tar and nicotine smoke average yields have decreased from 38 and 2.7 mg per cigarette in 1954 to 13 and 0.9 mg in 1993, respectively (Hoffmann and Hoffman, 1997).

Table 1: RESULTS OF TESTS FOR NICOTINE AND TAR

CONSUMER REPORTS March 1957..

The listing is in order of increasing nicotine content of the
smoke. Small differences in nicotine and tar content are
of no significance.
BRAND and TYPE Average
Nicotine in
Smoke for
Cigarette
(milligrams)
Avergae
Tar in
Smoke per
Cigarette
(milligrams)
JOHN ALDEN Low nicotine tobacco, regular 0.7 21
SANO Denicotinized, kind-size, filter-tip 1.0 11
LORDS Denicotinized, regular 1.2 16
YORKSHIRE Regular 1.8 15
MURAD Regular 1.8 17
CHESTERFIELD Regular 2.1 17
TAREYTON King-size, filter-tip 2.3 19
L & M Regular size, filter-tip 2.6 18
L & M King-size, filter-tip 2.6 15
LUCKY STRIKE Regular 2.6 19
KENT Regular size, filter-tip 2.7 16
OLD GOLD Regular 2.7 18
VICEROY King-size, filter-tip 2.8 18
KOOL Mentholated, regular 2.8 20
MARLBORO Long, filter-tip 2.9 18
PHILIP MORRIS Regular 2.9 18
HERBERT TAREYTON King-size 2.9 22
HIT PARADE King-size, filter-tip 3.0 20
CHESTERFIELD King-size 3.0 22
PALL MALL King-size 3.0 24
KOOL Mentholated, king-size, filter-tip 3.1 16
SPUD Mentholated, long, filter-tip 3.1 17
OLD GOLD King-size, filter-tip 3.1 19
PHILIP MORRIS Long 3.1 21
REGENT King-size, filter-tip 3.1 21
FATIMA King-size 3.1 24
CAMEL Regular 3.2 17
OLD GOLD King-size 3.2 19
PARLIAMENT Long, filter-tip 3.4 20
SALEM Mentholated, king-size, filter-tip 3.7 19
RALEIGH King-size 3.7 23
WINSTON King-size, filtr-tip 3.8 22
CAVALIER King-size 3.8 26







Table 2: Lists the 10 menthol and non-mentholated domestic cigarettes with the highest tar and nicotine levels. The data seems to indicate that you can always find some non-mentholated cigarette that would be higher in nicotine and tar content than mentholated cigarettes. It is interesting to note that King size KOOL had highest nicotine delivery of all king-size cigarettes available in 1972 -- menthol or non-menthol (Phillip Morris document 2022244800, May 24, 1972).

Table 2: Highest Cigarettes in Nicotine, Tar and Carbon Monoxide Content

/tr>
Menthol - TOP 10 Regular (Non-mentholated)
NIC Tar CO BRAND TYPE NIC TAR CO Brand TYPE
1.5 17 17 TALL 120 F SP FF 2.0 26 16 ENGLISH OVALS King NF HP
1.4 19 18 SALEM KING F HP GOLD 1.8 26 18 OLD GOLD King NF SP Straight
1.4 19 18 NEWPORT 25 pkg 100 F SP 1.7 27 16 COMMANDER King NF SP
1.4 18 19 NEWPORT 100 F SP 1.7 27 16 BRISTOL King NF SP
1.4 18 19 NEWPORT 100 F HP 1.7 26 18 PALL MALL King NF SP
1.4 18 18 NEWPORT 10 pkg 100 F SP 1.7 26 16 BASIC King NF SP
1.4 17 19 SALEM 100 F SP 1.7 25 15 TAREYTON HERBERT King NF SP
1.3 21 13 KOOL REG NF SP 1.7 23 15 CAMEL REG NF SP
1.3 18 17 RIVIERA 100 F HP 1.6 26 16 LUCKY STRIKE REG NF SP
1.2 17 19 SALEM KING F SP 1.6 23 14 PLAYERS REG NF HP

KEY: F=Filter, NF=Non-Filter, HP=Hard Pack, SP=Soft Pack, LT=LIGHT, FF=Full Flavor, DLX=Deluxe, REG=Regular (70mm), KS=King SIZE (80-85mm), 100 and 120 are millimeters per cigarette; 10, 25 or 30 = # of cigarettes per pack; NIC= Nicotine in millimeters per cigarette, TAR=total particulate matter in milligrams per cigarette less nicotine and water; and CO=carbon monoxide in milligrams per cigarette.






In Table 3 in just about every case the four types of the most popular mentholated brands were higher in nicotine and tar content compared to non-mentholated Marlboro cigarettes. According to the April 1999 issue of the Maxwell Report Marlboro has 37% of total market share.

Table 3: Most Popular Domestic Cigarettes: Nicotine, Tar and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Content (top 4-types per brand)

/tr>
Menthol - TOP 10 Regular (Non-mentholated)
NIC Tar CO BRAND TYPE NIC TAR CO Brand TYPE
1.4 19 18 NEWPORT 25 pkg 100 F SP 1.2 16 15 MARLBORO RED pkg 100 F HP
1.4 18 19 NEWPORT 100 F HP 1.2 15 15 MARLBORO GOLD pkg 100 F HP
1.4 18 19 NEWPORT 100 F SP 1.1 16 15 MARLBORO King F SP
1.4 18 18 NEWPORT 10 pkg F SP 1.1 16 14 MARLBORO King F HP
1.3 21 13 KOOL REG NF SP 1.4 18 20 CAMEL 100 F HP
1.2 16 16 KOOL 100 F SP SUPER LONG 1.4 18 20 CAMEL King F SP
1.2 16 16 KOOL 100 F SPP 1.3 17 17 CAMEL King F HP
1.1 16 15 KOOL KING F SP 1.2 18 22 CAMEL WIDE KING HP
1.4 19 18 SALEM KING F HP GOLD 1.2 22 17 DORAL KING NF SP
1.4 17 19 SALEM 100 F SP 0.9 14 15 DORAL KING SP FF
1.2 17 19 SALEM KING F SP 0.8 13 16 DORAL 100 F SP FF
0.9 14 13 SALEM 100 F HP SLIM 0.7 10 11 DORAL 100 F SP LT
1.3 23 15 GPC KING NF SP
1.0 16 14 GPC KING F HP FF
0.9 15 16 GPC 100 F SP FF
0.9 4 15 GPC F HP FF
1.7 26 16 BASIC KING NF SP
1.1 15 16 BASIC 100 F SP
1.0 15 16 BASIC KING F SP
0.8 10 13 BASIC 100 F SP LT
1.1 14 15 VIRGINIA SLIMS 120 F HP LT
1.1 14 12 VIRGINIA SLIMS 100 F SP SLIM
0.7 8 8 VIRGINIA SLIMS 100 F HP LT SLIM
0.5 6 5 VIRGINIA SLIMS 100 F HP Sup_SLIM
1.3 18 17 WINSTON KING F HP
1.3 17 17 WINSTON SELECT KING F HP
1.2 16 17 WINSTON SELECT KING F SP
1.2 15 13 WINSTON KING F SP

KEY: F=Filter, NF=Non-Filter, HP=Hard Pack, SP=Soft Pack, LT=LIGHT, FF=Full Flavor, DLX=Deluxe, REG=Regular (70mm), KS=King SIZE (80-85mm), 100 and 120 are millimeters per cigarette; 10, 25 or 30 = # of cigarettes per pack; NIC= Nicotine in millimeters per cigarette, TAR=total particulate matter in milligrams per cigarette less nicotine and water; and CO=carbon monoxide in milligrams per cigarette.






Conclusion: It should be remembered that all the values presented here were obtained from cigarettes being smoked by a machine under similar laboratory conditions. Common sense tells us that smokers can inhale different amounts of smoke dependent on how they hold and smoke cigarettes. A smoker's intake of smoke will vary dependent on the size of the puffs, the number of puffs per cigarette, how long the smoke is held before exhaling, how far the cigarette is smoked down to the filter overwrap and possibly to the extent to which the ventilation holes in the filter may be blocked by the fingers in holding the cigarette or by the lips. In fact, the tobacco industry designed their cigarettes to help the smoker compensate for the reduced amount of nicotine. The British & Anerican Tobacco Company scientists had a number of design features that were intended to allow smokers to obtain higher yields than a smoking machine (the "compensatable" filter). The tobacco industry seemed to think that the reduction in tar and related sensory properties of the smoke (e.g., the taste and body of the smoke) were responsble for compensation (Brown & Williamson - Low Yield Cigarettes and Smoker Compensation, http://www.brownandwilliamson.com/1_productinfo/compensation.html) In summary the intake of tar and nicotine varies from smoker to smoker dependent on their smoking behavior. As concluded by the National Cancer Institute and the US Food and Drug Administration data suggested that the limited health benefits, previously believed to be associated with lower nicotine and tar cigarettes, may not exist.