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Increase in number of additives in tobacco products

Publication date: 30 April 2015
Modificationdate: 20 October 2016
A total of 673 different types of additives are used by manufacturers in their tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco) and the number of additives used per tobacco product type increased over the years. That is the conclusion of a multiannual trend analysis with data from 2010-2013, performed by RIVM.

Additives may induce adverse health effects, since they increase attractiveness of consumption of the highly toxic and addictive tobacco products. Moreover, upon burning tobacco, some additives are transformed into toxic or even addictive combustion products. The most commonly used additives are flavors, such as vanilla and cocoa, followed by humectants. The Dutch law requires tobacco manufacturers (and importers) to submit for each tobacco product all additives, including the quantities, functions and health effects, on a yearly basis.


The number of additives used per tobacco product type over the years has particularly increased in cigars (20%) and pipe tobacco (40%). Some cigars contain additives similar to those used in cigarettes. Additionally, in most cases, these cigars have cigarette-like characteristics, such as low tobacco weight and filters. Increase in attractiveness may be the reason of little cigars and cigarillo’s gaining worldwide popularity.

Differences between manufacturers

The additive composition of cigarette brands remains constant and does not change much over the years. However, additive composition is different between small and large cigarette manufacturers. The humectant propylene glycol, for example, is added by small and large manufacturers in different amounts.

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