Cigarette

An unlit, filtered cigarette

A cigarette, also known colloquially as a fag in British English, is a narrow cylinder containing psychoactive material, usually tobacco, that is rolled into thin paper for smoking. Most cigarettes contain a "reconstituted tobacco" product known as "sheet", which consists of "recycled [tobacco] stems, stalks, scraps, collected dust, and floor sweepings", to which are added glue, chemicals and fillers; the product is then sprayed with nicotine that was extracted from the tobacco scraps, and shaped into curls.[1] The cigarette is ignited at one end, causing it to smolder; the resulting smoke is orally inhaled via the opposite end. Most modern cigarettes are filtered, although this does not make them safer. Cigarette manufacturers have described cigarettes as a drug administration system for the delivery of nicotine in acceptable and attractive form.[2][3][4][5] Cigarettes are addictive (because of nicotine) and cause cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and other health problems.

The term cigarette, as commonly used, refers to a tobacco cigarette but is sometimes used to refer to other substances, such as a cannabis cigarette. A cigarette is distinguished from a cigar by its usually smaller size, use of processed leaf, and paper wrapping, which is typically white. Cigar wrappers are typically composed of tobacco leaf or paper dipped in tobacco extract.

Smoking rates have generally declined in the developed world, but continue to rise in some developing nations.[6][7][8] Cigarette smoking causes health harms and death. Nicotine is also highly addictive. About half of cigarette smokers die of tobacco-related disease[9] and lose on average 14 years of life.[10]

Cigarette use by pregnant women has also been shown to cause birth defects, including low birth weight, fetal abnormalities, and premature birth.[11] Second-hand smoke from cigarettes causes many of the same health problems as smoking, including cancer,[12][13][14][15] which has led to legislation and policy that has prohibited smoking in many workplaces and public areas. Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemical compounds, including arsenic, formaldehyde, cyanide, lead, nicotine, carbon monoxide, acrolein, and other poisonous substances.[16] Over 70 of these are carcinogenic.[17] Additionally, cigarettes are a frequent source of deadly fires in private homes, which prompted both the European Union and the United States to require cigarettes to be fire-standard compliant.[18][19]

History

A reproduction of a carving from the temple at Palenque, Mexico, depicting a Maya deity using a smoking tube

The earliest forms of cigarettes were similar to their predecessor, the cigar. Cigarettes appear to have had antecedents in Mexico and Central America around the 9th century in the form of reeds and smoking tubes. The Maya, and later the Aztecs, smoked tobacco and other psychoactive drugs in religious rituals and frequently depicted priests and deities smoking on pottery and temple engravings. The cigarette and the cigar were the most common methods of smoking in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America until recent times.[20]

The North American, Central American, and South American cigarette used various plant wrappers; when it was brought back to Spain, maize wrappers were introduced, and by the 17th century, fine paper. The resulting product was called papelate and is documented in Goya's paintings La Cometa, La Merienda en el Manzanares, and El juego de la pelota a pala (18th century).[21]

By 1830, the cigarette had crossed into France, where it received the name cigarette; and in 1845, the French state tobacco monopoly began manufacturing them.[21] The French word was adopted by English in the 1840s.[22] Some American reformers promoted the spelling cigaret,[23][24] but this was never widespread and is now largely abandoned.[25]

The first patented cigarette-making machine was invented by Juan Nepomuceno Adorno of Mexico in 1847.[26] However, production climbed markedly when another cigarette-making machine was developed in the 1880s by James Albert Bonsack, which vastly increased the productivity of cigarette companies, which went from making about 40,000 hand-rolled cigarettes daily to around 4 million.[27]

In the English-speaking world, the use of tobacco in cigarette form became increasingly widespread during and after the Crimean War, when British soldiers began emulating their Ottoman Turkish comrades and Russian enemies, who had begun rolling and smoking tobacco in strips of old newspaper for lack of proper cigar-rolling leaf.[21] This was helped by the development of tobaccos suitable for cigarette use, and by the development of the Egyptian cigarette export industry.

Francisco Goya's La Cometa, depicting a (foreground left) man smoking an early quasicigarette

Cigarettes may have been initially used in a manner similar to pipes, cigars, and cigarillos and not inhaled; for evidence, see the Lucky Strike ad campaign asking consumers "Do You Inhale?" from the 1930s. As cigarette tobacco became milder and more acidic, inhaling may have become perceived as more agreeable. However, Moltke noticed in the 1830s (cf. Unter dem Halbmond) that Ottomans (and he himself) inhaled the Turkish tobacco and Latakia from their pipes[28] (which are both initially sun-cured, acidic leaf varieties).

The widespread smoking of cigarettes in the Western world is largely a 20th-century phenomenon. At the start of the 20th century, the per capita annual consumption in the U.S. was 54 cigarettes (with less than 0.5% of the population smoking more than 100 cigarettes per year), and consumption there peaked at 4,259 per capita in 1965. At that time, about 50% of men and 33% of women smoked (defined as smoking more than 100 cigarettes per year).[29] By 2000, consumption had fallen to 2,092 per capita, corresponding to about 30% of men and 22% of women smoking more than 100 cigarettes per year, and by 2006 per capita consumption had declined to 1,691;[30] implying that about 21% of the population smoked 100 cigarettes or more per year.

The adverse health effects of cigarettes were known by the mid-19th century when they became known as coffins nails.[31] German doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer, which led to the first antitobacco movement in Nazi Germany.[32][33] During World War I and World War II, cigarettes were rationed to soldiers. During the Vietnam War, cigarettes were included with C-ration meals. In 1975, the U.S. government stopped putting cigarettes in military rations. During the second half of the 20th century, the adverse health effects of tobacco smoking started to become widely known and text-only health warnings became common on cigarette packets.

The United States has not implemented graphical cigarette warning labels, which are considered a more effective method to communicate to the public the dangers of cigarette smoking.[34] Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru,[35] Greece, the Netherlands,[citation needed] New Zealand, Norway, Hungary, the United Kingdom, France, Romania, Singapore, Egypt, Nepal and Turkey, however, have both textual warnings and graphic visual images displaying, among other things, the damaging effects tobacco use has on the human body.

The cigarette has evolved much since its conception; for example, the thin bands that travel transverse to the "axis of smoking" (thus forming circles along the length of the cigarette) are alternate sections of thin and thick paper to facilitate effective burning when being drawn, and retard burning when at rest. Synthetic particulate filters may remove some of the tar before it reaches the smoker.

The "holy grail" for cigarette companies has been a cancer-free cigarette. On record, the closest historical attempt was produced by scientist James Mold. Under the name project TAME, he produced the XA cigarette. However, in 1978, his project was terminated.[36][37][38]

Since 1950, the average nicotine and tar content of cigarettes has steadily fallen. Research has shown that the fall in overall nicotine content has led to smokers inhaling larger volumes per puff.[39]