The relative toxicity of compounds in mainstream cigarette smoke condensate

Food Chem Toxicol. 2000 Jul;38(7):637-46. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(00)00051-x.


Many different in vivo and in vitro tests are currently used to assess the toxicity of chemicals and complex mixtures such as cigarette smoke condensate. In vivo tests include assays in rodents to determine carcinogenicity, tumorigenicity and reproductive effects In vitro tests of mutagenicity are conducted with both bacterial and mammalian cell systems. A first step towards lowering the toxicity of cigarette smoke condensate is the identification of the relevant compound However, changing the concentration of a given smoke component may not linearly alter the biological activity of the complex mixture due to interactive effects. The "effective toxicity" of a chemical constituent is a function of the concentration, the metabolic fate, the potency in in vivo and in vitro assays, and the ability to reach the target tissues. The logarithm of the octanol-water partition coefficient (log P) is an important parameter since it affects metabolism, biological transport properties and intrinsic toxicity. Using concentration data from the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), biological activity data from the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) database and measured and calculated log P values, we have rank ordered some of the important compounds in cigarette smoke condensate by their measured or potential toxicity. Condensates from different cigarette brands, tar categories and styles vary in their concentrations of these compounds. Chemicals of greater commercial or scientific interest may be toxicity tested more extensively, thereby increasing the probability of positive test results and highlighting the need for consideration of structure-activity relationships.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Carcinogens / classification
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Databases as Topic
  • Mutagens / analysis
  • Mutagens / classification
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Phenol / toxicity
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Rodentia
  • Smoke / adverse effects
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Solubility
  • Tobacco*


  • Carcinogens
  • Mutagens
  • Smoke
  • Phenol
  • Acetaldehyde