How Cigarettes Are Made
Cigarette tobacco is harvested and then cured using heat, which increases the amount of tobacco specific nitrosamines (a major cancer causing agent). This process was developed before anyone knew that smoking tobacco can cause cancer. It was developed by accident and it was used because it created a brighter yellow leaf.
The whole leaf is then processed since the stems within the leaf have more nicotine than the leaf. Stems used to be removed because they are bitter, but are now included for their high nicotine content.
In order to mask their poor burning qualities and bitter flavor, the stems are ground up with leaf scraps into a kind of pulp. Then sugar can be added to the pulp. This mixture is then mixed with tobacco from the leaves of the plant. Some experts believe the sugars added to tobacco add to the addictive characteristics of the product.
Ammonia is also added to the mixture of leaf tobacco, stem tobacco, and sugar. Ammonia has the effect of raising the alkaloid value of the tobacco. This increased pH allows the release of more nicotine than would have been released naturally as the tobacco burns. The nicotine released after the tobacco has been treated by ammonia is more rapidly absorbed by the human body.
Then flavors like licorice and cocoa are added to many popular brands. Some reasons for this are to smooth out the flavor or to satisfy particular consumer preferences. Additionally additives like these dilate air passages in the lungs when they are burned, allowing more interior lung surface area for the absorption of inhaled nicotine.
The mixture of leaf, ground up stems, sugar, ammonia, and flavoring agents is then completely combined, dried, and shredded. Machines are now used to roll the tobacco into individual cigarettes.
The rolling process involves a hopper of the tobacco mix, a roll of cigarette paper, a hopper with filters, a roll of filter paper, and glue. Basically, the roll of cigarette paper runs on a sort of conveyor belt where the hopper of tobacco forces the shreds onto the belt just as it rolls over on itself, causing the paper to form a roll with the tobacco in it. Glue is applied along one edge of the paper and a long tube is formed. This tube is very shortly cut into lengths estimating the final tobacco tube on various sized final cigarettes. The filter then goes through a similar process and is pushed up against the tobacco tube, glue being applied to two edges of the filter paper, one to seal it on itself, and the other to seal it to the tobacco tube. The finished cigarettes are then gathered and fed into a wrapping mechanism (source: Tobacco Collector website).
Thus, a burning cigarette is a complex mixture of leaves, stems, sugar, ammonia, flavorings, paper, glue, and filtering materials destined for repeated inhalation deep within the human respiratory tract.
Tobacco Tutorial: Page 8 of 21