Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cigarette Makers Open Top-Secret List of Chemicals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cigarette Makers Open Top-Secret List of Chemicals

Article excerpt

Under intense pressure from Congress, the nation's biggest tobacco companies released Wednesday a top-secret list of chemicals in cigarettes - including some also found in candy, coffee and fruit.

But critics say cigarettes aren't off the hook. Amid the wholesome-sounding descriptions made public Wednesday are some chemicals that do pose safety questions.

The list contained 599 additives, those used by domestic cigarette companies. Foreign companies use 100 more chemicals, which remain secret. Among the more common additives: chocolate, wine and coconut oil.

Government officials have said 13 cigarette additives aren't allowed in food. But domestic cigarettes contain only eight of those, and the R.J. Reynolds company contended that they're not harmful in the trace amounts used. Among them:

Methoprene, an insecticide sprayed onto tobacco leaves to prevent beetle pupae from maturing. Reynolds said the Food and Drug Administration allows methoprene to be used on dried fruits.

Ammonia, which can be toxic but is allowed in food in certain safe forms.

Ethyl furoate, which National Public Radio last week reported causes liver damage in laboratory animals. Although the FDA hasn't approved it as a food additive, spokesman Jim O'Hara said the food industry does consider it safe as a natural food ingredient. Reynolds contends that ethyl furoate is found naturally in coffee, kiwi and peanuts.

The remaining five are flavorings or sweeteners that Reynolds said are naturally present in such foods as grapefruit juice and peppermint.

Tobacco companies have long opposed releasing the ingredients for fear that competitors would steal their recipes, but company officials said Wednesday that they now want to prove they're not hiding anything sinister.

The list does not say how much of the various additives are used, which brands they are used in, or which combinations of additives appear together in cigarettes. …

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