Ingredients are used in tobacco production to ensure consistent product quality and taste. Certain ingredients play a preservative role or serve to keep the tobacco moist. Others are added to balance the natural taste of tobacco and give brands their signature flavour and aroma.
As early as the 16th century, Europeans began experimenting with adding ingredients to tobacco. The use of prized flavourings such as cocoa, liquorice and vanilla contributed to the growth of an artisanal tobacco craft that has carried through to present day. Then as now, the objective of blending tobacco with ingredients was to moisturise, preserve and infuse the leaves with distinct aromas.
Recent criticism of the use of ingredients has given rise to the concepts of ‘attractiveness’ and ‘characterising flavours’. It is argued that adding certain ingredients enhances the attractiveness of the tobacco products, especially to minors. However, ‘attractiveness’ is an inherently subjective and vague concept, without any legal or scientific merit. The notion of “characterising flavours” has also been wrongly conceived, suggesting that flavours are added to tobacco products in quantities to encourage smoking uptake.
Ingredients should not be confused with the naturally occurring nicotine found in the tobacco plant.
The EU has shown that there is no evidence of ingredients contributing to the addictiveness of products.
Ingredients instead serve specific functions in preparing tobacco for consumption. The ingredients used in legal tobacco products are carefully controlled and researched to ensure the final products meet regulatory standards. The absence of needed ingredients and lack of safety controls are key factors adding to the danger of counterfeit tobacco.
A ‘ban’ on all tobacco ingredients would be problematic as they are necessary to the manufacturing process and vital for maintaining the integrity of tobacco products after curing. Without ingredients, manufacturers would be unable to ensure the quality and consistency of their products. Any decision to ban or restrict the use of a specific ingredient should be based on scientific evidence, not on politics and dogma.