Smokers around the world prefer many different tastes and strengths. We believe that our consumers, as adults, make informed choices about smoking as well as about their cigarette brands.
Our companies work to understand the preferences of adult consumers and to design cigarettes to meet them. It’s the preferences of adult consumers that guide our tobacco blends – the mix of tobaccos that we use – and we work to ensure that these grades are available long-term to keep the tastes of our products consistent.
Food-type ingredients and flavourings are added to some types of cigarettes – typically American style blends – to balance the natural tobacco taste, replace sugars lost in curing and give individual brands their characteristic flavour and aroma. Other ingredients control moisture, protect against microbial degradation and act as binders or fillers.
Nicotine is not added in making cigarettes. It occurs naturally in all varieties of tobacco plants.
The filter, paper and level of filter ventilation are all chosen to affect the sensory strength and smoke yield of the cigarette. At each stage, there is constant quality control and testing.
Cigarettes have four basic components, the tobacco rod, the cigarette paper, the tipping paper and the filter.
Design adjustments achieve different strengths and tastes, and can reduce smoke yields of various smoke components, as measured by a standardised machine method.
To understand cigarette design, it helps to know how a cigarette burns. It is the combustion process – the burning of the cigarette – that produces tar. If hay were burned instead of tobacco, it would also produce a type of tar. When an item burns, it produces tiny particles mixed with gases – this is smoke. A cigarette filter traps some of these particles.
When a smoker puffs on a cigarette, whole smoke, including both fine particles and gases, is sucked through the tobacco rod and the filter. Gases pass through the filter and some particles are trapped in it. It is this particulate matter, minus nicotine and water, that is called tar.
Smoke has over 4,000 constituents, many of them also found in the air we breathe and in our food. These constituents include the emissions listed on packs, such as tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. Water vapour is also produced by the combustion, because the burning of any organic material breaks down the chemical components and produces water.
Our filter tips are biodegradable over a period of between a month and three years, depending on environmental conditions. Although we are researching more rapid breakdown, at present we know of no practical way of making consumer-acceptable filters that would degrade so quickly that they would not cause short-term littering problems.