Toxicological evaluation of honey as an ingredient added to cigarette tobacco

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2003 Aug 8;66(15):1453-73. doi: 10.1080/15287390306413.


A tiered testing strategy has been developed to evaluate the potential for new ingredients, tobacco processes, and technological developments to increase or reduce the biological activity that results from burning tobacco. In the manufacture of cigarettes, honey is used as a casing ingredient to impart both aroma and taste. The primary objective of this document is to summarize and interpret chemical and toxicological studies that have been conducted to evaluate the potential impact of honey on the biological activity of either mainstream cigarette smoke or cigarette smoke condensate. As part of ongoing stewardship efforts, cigarettes produced with honey (5% wet weight) as an alternative to invert sugar in tobacco casing material were subjected to extensive evaluation. Principal components of this evaluation were a determination of selected mainstream smoke constituent yields, Ames assay, sister chromatid exchange assay in Chinese hamster ovary cells, a 30-wk dermal tumor promotion evaluation of cigarette smoke condensate in SENCAR mice, and a 13-wk inhalation study of cigarette smoke in Sprague-Dawley rats. Comparative analytical evaluations demonstrated that the substitution of honey for invert sugar as a casing material in cigarettes had no significant impact on mainstream smoke chemistry. In addition, in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated that cigarettes containing tobacco cased with honey had comparable biological activity to cigarettes containing invert sugar. Collectively, these data demonstrate that the use of honey as an alternative casing material in the manufacture of cigarettes does not alter the potential toxicity of cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) or cigarette smoke; therefore the use of honey as an ingredient added to cigarette tobacco is acceptable from a toxicological perspective.

MeSH terms

  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene / toxicity
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carcinogenicity Tests
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Female
  • Honey / toxicity*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Salmonella typhimurium / drug effects
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange / drug effects
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Smoke / analysis
  • Smoking*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / toxicity
  • Tobacco*


  • Carcinogens
  • Smoke
  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate