Ingredients have been added to tobacco since the 16th century
We want consumers and governments to know the facts about ingredients used by our companies in the manufacture of cigarettes, cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, pipe tobacco and smokeless snus.
The primary component of all our companies’ products is of course tobacco and the character, flavour and aroma is determined mostly by the tobaccos used.
In fact, cigarette brands can contain many kinds of tobacco - blending different types of leaf from many growing regions and harvests.
Small quantities of other ingredients have been added to tobacco products for hundreds of years - helping to control moisture levels, maintaining product quality or acting as binders or fillers.
Certain food-type ingredients, or flavourings, are added to balance the natural tobacco taste, often replacing sugars lost in the curing process.
Several of the flavourings used are recognised food stuffs such as sugar, while others are derived from natural herbs and spices or their essential oils.
Consumers like choice and ingredients allow manufacturers to widen the variety on offer and compete for custom.
We voluntarily publish the ingredients we use and you can find out what’s in your brand by visiting www.bat-ingredients.com to see ingredients by country and brand.
Exploding the myths
Some anti-tobacco groups claim that ingredients are used to make smoking more appealing to children and more addictive.
Through the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty, these activists would like to see broad-based ingredients bans by governments worldwide.
We want to stress that:
- All tobacco products pose risks to health, but based on available scientific evidence, the ingredients our companies use, at the levels used, do not add to the health risks of smoking. Nor do they encourage people to start smoking or affect a person’s ability to quit.
- Ingredients are not added to make our tobacco products appealing to children, and there is no evidence that they have this effect.
- Although ingredients in some types of cigarettes 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 tobacco products - it occurs naturally in tobacco.
Blended versus unblended cigarettes
Smokers in countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK have historically preferred the taste of Virginia-style cigarettes which contain few or no ingredients.
In the US and Germany, for example, smokers prefer cigarettes that blend different types of tobaccos such as burley and oriental which generally need the addition of ingredients. Such brands are known as US blended.
If the allegations about addictiveness and attractiveness of ingredients had any basis in fact, you would expect to see higher take-up rates for smoking, lower rates for quitting and higher incidences of tobacco-related diseases in US blended markets. Yet, this is not the case.
The USA, where US-blended style cigarettes are popular, and Canada, where the cigarettes preferred are Virginia, provide a good example to illustrate this. Studies in these two culturally similar countries reveal there are few, if any, differences between them when it comes to underage smoking incidence, adult smoking incidence or estimated quitting rates.
Baseless bans and unintended consequences
We would support restrictions on ingredients based on sound evidence, supported by published and peer-reviewed science, that they induce the under-age to smoke or make tobacco products more addictive or harmful.
But many organisations feel that baseless bans could potentially cause major disruption to the livelihoods of thousands of growers of burley and oriental tobacco worldwide.
The International Tobacco Growers’ Association, which presents the cause of millions of tobacco growers around the world, feel the proposal could decimate growers’ livelihoods. They say a ban will “send the economies of countries that rely on tobacco export crashing, along with millions of farmers and workers whose livelihoods depend on growing tobacco”.
We are also concerned that any ban on US blended cigarettes could drive many consumers to the black market to find the tastes they prefer, adding to a growing global problem of illicit trade.
Illicit trade accounts for an ever increasing proportion of the tobacco market in a growing number of countries - an estimated 30 per cent in Ireland, over a quarter in Romania and Malaysia and 50 per cent in Hong Kong, for example.
Of course, black market cigarette sellers are unlikely to adhere to laws about not selling to the under age.