An RIVM study reveals that adding sugars and humectants to cigarettes leads to higher emissions of a number of toxic substances in cigarette smoke. RIVM investigated 50 commercial cigarette brands. The study was published in the scientific journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 

RIVM comes to this conclusion after analysing sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) and humectants (glycerine and propylene glycol) in 50 brands of cigarette tobacco. Sugars are added for flavour and humidifiers ensure that the tobacco does not dry out. RIVM’s smoke machine inhaled the same brands of cigarettes. The researchers analysed nine toxic substances in the smoke, which the World Health Organization (WHO) proposes to reduce. When more sugars and humectants are added to cigarettes, more of these toxins are released. Moreover, sugars and humectants make the cigarette attractive. RIVM recommends regulating the levels of sugars and humectants in tobacco.

Canadian Intense method

Using the Canadian Intense method, RIVM found not only a significant correlation between sugars and humidifiers but also harmful substances in smoke. This means that ventilation holes in the filter are taped and the cigarette is smoked more intensively. In the legally prescribed International Organization of Standardization measurement method (ISO), in which air is mixed with the smoke through the ventilation holes, the connection is also visible, but less significant.  

RIVM finds that the outcomes of this research support a WHO proposal for regulating toxic substances in cigarettes. This RIVM study was commissioned by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).