Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines in Current Commercial Large Cigars, Cigarillos, and Little Cigars

Chem Res Toxicol. 2024 Feb 19;37(2):220-226. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.3c00211. Epub 2024 Jan 18.


We measured levels of nitrosonornicotine (NNN) and 4-[methyl(nitroso)amino]-1-(3-pyridinyl)-1-butanone (NNK), the two most carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines, in the filler, binder, and wrapper of 50 cigars: 19 large cigars, 23 cigarillos, and 8 little cigars. The average NNN and NNK levels were 10.6 and 3.70 μg/g, respectively. These levels are 5- and 7-fold higher, respectively, than those of commercial cigarettes. The differences in NNN and NNK levels between cigars and cigarettes reflect differences in tobacco blends and tobacco treatments, such as fermentation. The average tobacco NNN and NNK levels of large cigars were 3- and 5-fold higher than those of cigarillos and little cigars, respectively. Large cigars also exhibited a significantly broader range of NNN and NNK than cigarillos and little cigars. The NNN and NNK levels in cigarillos are comparable to those of little cigars. These results are consistent with earlier studies finding that cigarillos and little cigars have similar tobacco blends with lower NNN and NNK content than large cigar tobacco blends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Nitrosamines*
  • Tobacco Products*


  • N'-nitrosonornicotine
  • Nitrosamines
  • Carcinogens