TAR, NICOTINE AND CARBON MONOXIDE
What is tar?
Cigarette smoke contains tiny particles which can be collected in the laboratory on a filter sheet when the cigarette is smoked by a machine. Tar (TAR, or Total Aerosol Residue) is usually defined as the weight of the solids collected after water and nicotine have been removed. There is a broad misconception that tar in cigarettes is the same as the tar used when building roads. It is not. ‘Tar’ is the abbreviation of Total Aerosol Residue.
The effect of this misconception is that governments in non-English speaking countries have translated ‘tar’ by their own word for the mixture used in road construction, such as ‘goudron’ in French, ‘Teer’ in German and ‘alquitrán’ in Spanish. This is both wrong and misleading.
What is nicotine?
Nicotine is a natural component of the tobacco plant and is contained in tobacco smoke.
Nicotine is also found in other plants of the Solanaceae family, such as tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes. However, these only contain a fraction of the nicotine found in tobacco. Nicotine has extraordinary pharmacological properties: it is both a mild stimulant (although much less so than caffeine) and
a mild relaxant. At a concentration of 0.01mg per 100g, the nicotine content of aubergines is indeed very low, although higher than in other edible plants. On average, 9kg of aubergines have approximately the same amount of nicotine as one cigarette.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a gas given off when plant material is burned.