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Sometimes It Is Just a Cigar, But the Nicotine?


Nicotine amounts aren't constant among cigar brands Even smokers of the same brand may be exposed to varying doses of nicotine and other smoke constituents.

The amount of nicotine found in large cigars and cigarillos varies greatly, researchers said in a poster presentation at the FDA Science Forum.

For large cigars, nicotine content ranged from 18.10 mg for the Blunt Ville Natural Deluxe to 505 mg for the Romeo y Julieta 1875 Churchill. For cigarillos, the amount varied from 14 mg for Zig Zag Straight Up to 36.40 mg for Good Times Straight Natural, Lynn Hull, PhD, a pharmacologist at the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, and colleagues found.

"This study reveals some of the challenges in experimental cigar research and illustrates the need to characterize cigar products before using them in clinical studies," the researchers wrote. "Continual monitoring of the physical and chemical properties would be useful to further understand these products' toxicity, abuse potential, and impact on the public health."
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Although much research has been done about cigarettes, there is limited data on the physical and chemical properties of cigars, the investigators noted in their introduction. "Therefore, research on cigar properties may be useful to better understand these products."

For their study, the researchers purchased 10 different brands of cigars and 10 cigarillos in August 2015; products were selected based on their market share and regional availability in the Baltimore area. All products were stored in their original packaging at ambient temperatures prior to analysis. In January 2016, a secondary analysis was conducted on two cigars and two cigarillos that had been purchased after the original batch, in order to determine within-brand, between-batch variability.

For each product, free nicotine content, free nicotine concentration, and percent free nicotine were calculated "based on nicotine content/concentration and tobacco pH using the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation with a pKa of 8.02 for nicotine."

The nicotine concentration of the cigars varied from 6.8 mg/g to 28.6 mg/g, while that of cigarillos ranged from 4.8 mg/g to 12.0 mg/g, they found. The pH levels ranged from 5.9 to 7.4 in cigars and from 5.3 to 7.2 in cigarillos.

The cigar products' size and weight didn't necessarily correlate with the free nicotine in each product; as a result, "a basic analysis of cigar products may be essential before cigar use in clinical studies," they concluded. In addition, because nicotine amounts vary within brands, "consumers smoking the same brand of cigar may unintentionally be exposed to varying doses of nicotine and potentially other smoke constituents."

The authors mentioned several limitations to their study, including the fact that the analyses were performed on a limited number of cigar products and may not be representative of all cigars available on the US market. In addition, "the free nicotine concentrations should be interpreted with caution," they said.

This article was first published on MedPage Today and reprinted with permission from UBM Medica. Free registration is required.

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