The ingredients used in some cigarettes are the subject of debate and are often misunderstood. What are cigarette ingredients, and what are some of the key questions asked about them?

What are tobacco ingredients?

Ingredients have been added to tobacco since the 16th century. For example, Spanish sailors are believed to have added liquorice to tobacco as a preservative.

Ingredients added to tobacco products are not the same as smoke constituents. Ingredients are added to a small number of New Zealand products during manufacturing and have a specific function in the final product.  Smoke constituents are formed by the burning of the tobacco product.

Why are ingredients used?

Food-type ingredients and flavourings are added to tobacco to balance the natural tobacco taste, to replace sugars lost in the curing process, and to give individual brands their characteristic flavour and aroma. Other ingredients have technological functions such as controlling moisture, protecting against microbial degradation, and acting as binders or fillers.

How are they regulated?

Each January, tobacco manufacturers, distributors and importers are required to submit an Annual Return covering a composite list of tobacco weight, additives and the recommended retail price of each tobacco brand sold in the New Zealand market. BAT New Zealand has filed an Annual Return with the Ministry of Health for over 20 years with no requests for further information from the Ministry during that time.

As with many consumer products, exact ingredient 'recipes' are valuable trade secrets, protected from competitors. While tobacco companies maintain commercial confidentiality, we co-operate with the New Zealand government to provide the information they need for regulatory assessment, and we publish information about tobacco ingredients and flavourings to provide quantitative information about our products without compromising our proprietary information.

BAT has Group-wide procedures to ensure to the best of our ability that ingredients used in our products do not present any additional health risks.

Some important considerations about ingredients

  • In our view, based on the currently available scientific evidence, the ingredients used in our products, at the levels used, do not add to the harm of tobacco consumption, do not induce people to start smoking and do not affect people's ability to quit.
  • There is no evidence that smoking cigarettes without added ingredients reduces the health risks.  There is no such thing as a safe cigarette.
  • Ingredients are not added to make cigarettes appealing to children. While the ingredients in some cigarettes do include sugars, cocoa and fruit extracts, they do not create a sweet, chocolate-like or fruity taste in the smoke.  In short, our cigarettes still taste like cigarettes and not sweets or candy.
  • Nicotine is not added to our tobacco products  – it occurs naturally in tobacco.
  • Ingredients are not added to increase the amount of nicotine in cigarette smoke, nor to increase the amount or speed of nicotine absorbed into the smoker’s body.