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23 June 2008

The Secret of Marlboro's Success: Freebase Nicotine


title=class="imageMost American cigarette makers including Philip Morris (PM) have used ammonia in their manufacturing processes for decades, to "puff up" tobacco to increase its volume, highlight certain flavors, help hold together reconstituted tobacco sheet and reduce the amount of nicotine in tobacco. Lesser known, though, is that tobacco companies use ammonia to "freebase" the nicotine in smoke, essentially turning naturally-occurring nicotine into "crack nicotine." Freebase nicotine is absorbed by the body more quickly and easily, resulting in a faster, harder "kick" after lighting up. Using ammonia has allowed tobacco companies to lower the tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes while still keeping smokers addicted, a chemical strategy they applied to deal with the health fears surrounding cigarettes. PM was the first to use "ammonia technology" this way, applying it to Marlboros in the 1960s. After the change, Marlboro zoomed from a minor brand to a runaway market success, causing the other cigarette makers to scramble to discover PM's "secret." After PM was accused of intentionally manipulating the nicotine deliveries of its cigarettes, the company pointed to all the other uses for ammonia to defend itself against the charge.


Center for Media and Democracy - Publishers of PR Watch 6/23/08 6:21 PM Anne Landman corporations education ethics health human rights issue management science secrecy tobacco Comments

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