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Open Access Publications from the University of California

SACTob Recommendation on Tobacco Product Ingredients and Emissions


Historically, cigarettes and other tobacco products have been exempt from health and safety standards for ingredients and emissions that are typically applied to other consumed products including foods, beverages and drugs (1, 2, 3). Although some countries have begun to develop and apply standards for allowable ingredients, there are no globally accepted standards or guidelines (2). Presently limits on emissions from tobacco products have not been implemented with the exception of estimates of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide (2). An important consideration in the regulation of ingredients is that when the cigarette is used as intended, the ingredients can be modified and emission profiles altered during the processes of combustion (“burning”) and pyrolysis (“modification by heat”). Therefore, the focus of this document is on the importance of evaluating tobacco product emissions as well as their ingredients under the conditions in which these products are actually used. The purpose of the document is to provide recommendations to support the development of protocols for assessing tobacco product ingredients and associated emissions with the intent to reduce tobacco caused disease.

The central premise is that tobacco product ingredients and emissions thereof, including nicotine, should be regulated. Ingredients include all product components, materials used to manufacture those components, residual substances from agricultural practices, storage and processing, and substances that can migrate from packaging into the product. [The term ingredients is preferred to terms such as “additives” and “processing aids”]. Emissions comprise what is actually delivered to the user and are the product responsible for most tobacco-attributable death and disease. Emissions are substances that are produced when the product is used and this is distinguished from "exposure", a term that in this context refers to the fraction of emissions that is actually absorbed by the user.

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