Application of high-performance capillary electrophoresis to the quantitative analysis of nicotine and profiling of other alkaloids in ATF-regulated tobacco products

Electrophoresis. 1998 Jan;19(1):19-26. doi: 10.1002/elps.1150190106.


Tobacco products regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), are classified at different excise tax rates according to the Code of Federal Regulations. These include the smoking (cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobacco and roll-your-own) and smokeless (chewing tobacco and snuff) tobacco products. The active principal components in all tobacco products belong to a class of compounds known as alkaloids. Nicotine is the major tobacco alkaloid, comprising about 98% of the total alkaloids. It is also the primary determinant of what constitutes a tobacco product from a regulatory standpoint. Nornicotine, anabasine and anatabine constitute the minor tobacco alkaloids of importance and interest to ATF. We have previously shown capillary electrophoresis (CE) to be a powerful analytical tool for monitoring nicotine in ATF-regulated products. Here we have extended those CE studies to (i) quantitate nicotine in ATF-regulated tobacco products and (ii) to characterize these different tobacco products according to their alkaloid profiles. Results from these studies will be presented.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / analysis*
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / methods*
  • Government Agencies
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nicotiana / chemistry*
  • Nicotine / analogs & derivatives
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet


  • Alkaloids
  • Nicotine