Total yields of cigarette smoke constituents are greatly influenced by smoking behaviour, the tobacco blend as well as a variety of cigarette design parameters. Thereby, filter ventilation, i.e. diluting the smoke by providing a zone of microscopic holes around the circumference of the filter is one method to reduce the yield of 'tar' and other smoke compounds. However, little is known how these design variations influence the combustion conditions, and therefore, the overall chemical pattern of the smoke. In this paper single photon ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SPI-TOFMS) is used to characterize and compare cigarettes on a puff-by-puff basis, which differ only in filter ventilation magnitude. The research cigarettes investigated were made from Virginia tobacco and featured filter ventilations of 0% (no ventilation), 35%, and 70%. The cigarettes were smoked under two different puffing regimes, one using the puffing parameters of the conventional International Organization for Standardization (ISO) smoking regime and a more intense smoking condition. Results show that every variation entails a change of the chemical pattern, whereby, in general, cigarettes with 0% filter ventilation as well as the intense smoking regime lead to a more complete combustion compared to the ISO smoking conditions and the high ventilated cigarettes. Changes in the overall patterns can also be observed during the smoking for individual puffs. Some substances dominate the first puff, some species are more pronounced in the middle puffs, whereas others are preferably formed in the last puffs. This demonstrates the high complexity of the occurring processes. Results might help to understand the formation and decomposition reactions taking place when a cigarette is smoked and offer scope for targeted reduction strategies for specific toxicants or groups of toxicants in the smoke.