What are Cigarettes Made From

Diving into the complex world of cigarettes, this article reveals their intricate composition and the impact of over 7,000 chemicals.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into making a cigarette, you’re not alone. When taking a look at your average cigarette it consists of a filter, rolling paper, and tobacco. However,  there’s more to them than meets the eye. According to reports from the FDA, there are more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke.

This might seem like a high number of chemicals for something so simple. However, not all tobacco products have the same structure, there is a big difference between cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, and other products. That’s why we decided to dive deeper into the composition of cigarettes and discover what are they exactly made of.

How Are Cigarettes Made?

Cigarettes are crafted from tobacco leaves wrapped in a combination of paper and non-tobacco materials, cigarettes typically measure around eight millimeters in diameter and range from 70 to 120 millimeters in length. These meticulously engineered products comprise various components, including tobacco type, paper and filter.

The selection of tobacco leaves is the first step in the creation of cigarettes. These leaves are carefully selected based on the variety and combination needed. An American mix cigarette, for example, combines Oriental, Burley, and Virginia tobacco leaves. The tobacco is finely chopped and ready for wrapping before being shaped into the typical cylindrical shape.

The careful chopping of tobacco leaves begins the delicate process of cigarette manufacture. This processed tobacco is then conveyed along with extended cigarette paper on a conveyor belt. The tobacco is carefully placed at both ends and tightly tied with “tipping paper.” The final result is made up of many cuts ranging from pocket-sized to long and standard. When finished, the cigarettes are wrapped in a protective film and put into master cases or cartons for distribution.

What’s Really Inside of a Cigarette?

When it comes to cigarettes there are three major ingredients, that are also labeled on each box. That is:

  • Tar
  • Nicotine
  • Carbone monoxide

These substances have a significant impact on the body with their relatively toxic overall composition.


First of all, we need to distinguish cigarette tar from naturally occurring forms such as wood tar, which has antibacterial properties not found in cigarette tar. Tar is a collection of particulates that smokers inhale, and it essentially contains all of the hazardous ingredients found in cigarettes.

Tar develops a layer on the lungs, causing cilia cells to be depleted. With this protective barrier breached, tar has unrestricted access to the alveoli, introducing carcinogenic substances and causing malignancies and other respiratory diseases.


Nicotine is the primary cause of cigarette addiction. This extremely addictive substance urges people to continue smoking, causing the persistent return to cigarettes despite attempts to quit. It is found naturally in tobacco plants, where it acts as a natural insect repellent and has historically been used as a pesticide.

Nicotine causes adrenaline and dopamine spikes in the human body. Furthermore, it raises blood sugar levels and impairs insulin synthesis by preventing the response of the cells to this hormone, causing smokers to lose their appetite. Because of these combined effects, it might be hard to quit smoking as nicotine addiction may cause both psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an extremely hazardous gas that is produced whenever a material burns. This toxic gas has a negative impact on the respiratory and circulatory systems. After carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream, it displaces oxygen leading to a decreased oxygen supply to cells in the body. As a result, the heart increases its pumping rate to compensate, resulting in high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack among smokers.

Why Choose Our Native Smokes Over Popular Brands?

When it comes to selecting a smoking product, our native smokes stand out for several compelling reasons. Unlike many popular brands that are laden with chemicals, our native smokes are crafted with a more natural approach, ensuring fewer chemicals and a purer smoking experience. This not only provides a smoother taste but also reduces the potential health risks associated with chemical additives.

Why are Chemicals Added to Tobacco Products?

As some may already know, tobacco product additives encompass a range of substances incorporated during manufacturing. These include flavors, preservatives, humectants (which retain moisture), and antimicrobials, but exclude the fertilizers or pesticides utilized in growing tobacco plants. While nearly 600 additives have been identified in cigarettes, individual brands typically incorporate 40 or more.

Additives were infrequently employed until the 1970s but have become commonplace, constituting up to 10% of a cigarette or roll-your-own tobacco’s weight. Roll-your-own tobacco contains a comparable quantity of additives by weight as factory-made cigarettes. Cigars and pipe tobacco generally contain fewer additives by weight than cigarette tobacco. Despite claims of being ‘all natural’, some cigars have been found to include flavor additives and high-intensity sweeteners.

The tobacco industry typically refers to these added substances as ‘ingredients’, asserting they serve to ensure product uniformity, establish distinct brands, manage moisture levels, and ‘restore natural sugars lost during leaf curing’.

Regulators are primarily concerned with additives that heighten the addictiveness, appeal, and/or toxicity of tobacco products. Certain additives, like menthol, can amplify nicotine’s effects, making it harder for smokers to quit. Flavors, humectants, and compounds that mask the harshness of smoking impact taste, aroma, and ease of use. While some additives may seem benign, like sugars, they generate toxic and carcinogenic compounds, such as aldehydes, when burned. Many additives enhance multiple attributes, and some elevate all three: attractiveness, addictiveness, and toxicity.

Are There Additives That Increase The Addictiveness?

While no additives are primarily addictive on their own, they can amplify the effect of nicotine on the brain. It’s worth noting that there have been no confirmed incidents of tobacco companies actively putting nicotine into cigarette products.

Nicotine, derived from the tobacco plant, is the primary addictive component of tobacco. Once inhaled, nicotine swiftly enters the bloodstream via the lungs and disseminates throughout the body. Its addictive properties arise from its interaction with cellular receptors in the brain, activating the dopaminergic reward system. Various mechanisms exist through which additives in tobacco products may heighten the addictive potential of nicotine found in cigarettes.

Transparency in Ingredient Disclosure

One major point of dispute is the lack of legal requirements for cigarette producers to disclose the components of their products. Consider how many times you’ve seen a product on shop shelves that didn’t include a complete list of ingredients on the label. It’s unusual, and in many cases, it’s not even legal.

However, cigarette makers defy this rule because the sheer length of their ingredient list exceeds the space given on a carton, let alone a single pack. For this reason, you should get familiar with the contents of what you are smoking and understand the potential consequences for your general health and well-being.

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