Variations in Nicotine Yields between Single Cigarettes

By Goniewicz, Maciej L.; Koszowski, Bartosz et al. | Central European Journal of Public Health, March 2012 | Go to article overview
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Variations in Nicotine Yields between Single Cigarettes

Goniewicz, Maciej L., Koszowski, Bartosz, Czogala, Jan, Kuma, Tomasz, Gawron, Michal, Kosmider, Leon, Knysak, Jakub, Sobczak, Andrzej, Central European Journal of Public Health


Introduction and Aims: It is beyond any doubt that nicotine yield in cigarettes as determined using standard ISO method bears almost no relation to smokers' actual intake. However, the ISO method is still in use in many countries where the government is responsible for controlling and monitoring cigarette quality. The aim of the study was to measure the nicotine yield in single cigarettes and to evaluate their statistical distribution among the same brand.

Materials and methods: Nicotine yields were measured according to the ISO method in single cigarettes of the twenty most popular Polish brands of cigarettes.

Results: Relative standard deviation of nicotine yields in single cigarettes of the same brands varied from 16% to 34%. Relative differences between nicotine yields in a single cigarette of a particular brand and the mean value varied from -65% to +76%.

Discussion and Conclusions: The results indicate high variation in nicotine yields between cigarettes of the same brand. Such variation might affect compensatory smoking. This provides another reason why yields estimated using the standard ISO method are potentially misleading to smokers. Further studies are needed to better understand the implications of within-brand variability in yields for tobacco product regulation.

Key words: nicotine, cigarettes, tobacco smoke, cigarette smokers, ISO, FTC


Directive 2001/37/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2001 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products obliges all Member States to establish a policy on tobacco market control. The Directive regulates many aspects of tobacco products' sale, control, advertisement, labeling, and maximum yields of selected constituents etc. In the U.S., the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (S. 982) grants authority to regulate tobacco products (including nicotine content in cigarettes) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Nicotine in cigarette smoke shall be measured on the basis of international standard ISO 10315 (1) which is analogous to US FTC method (2). The standard describes a method for determination of nicotine in smoke condensate by means of gas chromatography. Cigarettes are usually smoked in a series of five or twenty, using a standard smoking machine. Smoking conditions are as follows: puff volume 35±0.25 mL, puff duration 0.05 s, intervals between puffs 60±0.5 s. Cigarettes are smoked until the butt length is 8mm from the filter (for filter cigarettes). The generated particulate matter is collected using standard Cambridge filters. Then the particulate matter is dissolved in a solvent (propan-2-ol) and the obtained solution is analysed by means of gas chromatography. The results of the chromatographic analysis are finally calculated per one cigarette. The method described allows for determination of nicotine in the particulate phase, while excluding the amount of nicotine in the gas phase. Sampling of cigarettes for laboratory control analysis of nicotine shall be performed in accordance with international standard ISO 8243 (3). Sampling requirements describe precisely the number of sampling points to be randomly sampled (shops, supermarkets, vending machines, etc.) and the number of sale units (packets) to be taken at each sampling point for each laboratory sample. Directive 2001/37/ EC also states that the nicotine yield of cigarette shall not be greater than 1 mg per cigarette. The confidence interval allowed for nicotine is ±20% (sampling at one point in time).

If the information about nicotine yields is provided by manufacturers on the cigarette pack it will represent the mean value of more than 20 cigarettes. Nicotine yield is the amount of nicotine in tobacco smoke generated from a single cigarette under standard laboratory conditions.

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