Sugars as tobacco ingredient: Effects on mainstream smoke composition

Food Chem Toxicol. 2006 Nov;44(11):1789-98. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2006.06.016. Epub 2006 Jul 8.


Sugars are natural tobacco components, and are also frequently added to tobacco during the manufacturing process. This review describes the fate of sugars during tobacco smoking, in particular the effect of tobacco sugars on mainstream smoke composition. In natural tobacco, sugars can be present in levels up to 20 wt%. In addition, various sugars are added in tobacco manufacturing in amounts up to 4 wt% per sugar. The added sugars are usually reported to serve as flavour/casing and humectant. However, sugars also promote tobacco smoking, because they generate acids that neutralize the harsh taste and throat impact of tobacco smoke. Moreover, the sweet taste and the agreeable smell of caramelized sugar flavors are appreciated in particular by starting adolescent smokers. Finally, sugars generate acetaldehyde, which has addictive properties and acts synergistically with nicotine in rodents. Apart from these consumption-enhancing pyrolysis products, many toxic (including carcinogenic) smoke compounds are generated from sugars. In particular, sugars increase the level of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, acrolein, and 2-furfural in tobacco smoke. It is concluded that sugars in tobacco significantly contribute to the adverse health effects of tobacco smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / chemistry
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrates / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco / chemistry*
  • Tobacco / toxicity
  • Tobacco Industry*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Smoke
  • Acetaldehyde