Assessment of major carcinogenic tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines in Thai cigarettes

Cancer Detect Prev. 1996;20(2):114-21.


This report presents new findings on the content of cancer-causing tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNA) in mainstream smoke of nine brands of commercially produced Thai cigarettes, representing about 85% of market share in Thailand. Also tested were two major and popular brands of U.S. cigarettes sold in Thailand, representing about 10% of market share. The cigarettes included filter and nonfilter cigarettes with high, moderate, and low tar and nicotine yields. The observed range for N-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) was from 28 to 730 ng/cigarette and for 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl-1-butanone (NNK) from 16 to 369 ng/cigarette. The relatively highest TSNA values were obtained in filter and nonfilter cigarettes with high tar (22.3-28.1 mg/cigarette) and high nicotine (1.78-2.42 mg/cigarette) deliveries. The results demonstrated that there is a correlation between TSNA and tar and nicotine deliveries in mainstream smoke. The TSNA deliveries, along with the tar and nicotine levels in mainstream smoke depended on the tobacco composition. According to these results, the tar levels alone, while significant, are not a sufficient measure for the biological activity and the carcinogenic potential of cigarettes in Thailand. Consumption of tobacco products nearly quadrupled over the last three decades (1966-1995) in Thailand. Lung cancer is the leading malignancy for men and a common malignancy for women in Thailand. This report provides information that may prove helpful in evaluating the TSNA-carcinogens burden on smokers. Our goal is to offer the scientific basis for voluntary and/or government-regulated reduction of the smoke yields of TSNA in tobacco products in Thailand and in other countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Nitrosamines / chemistry*
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Smoke / analysis
  • Tars / analysis
  • Thailand
  • Tobacco / chemistry*


  • Carcinogens
  • Nitrosamines
  • Smoke
  • Tars
  • Nicotine