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Nicotine is the key ingredient in cigarettes that keeps us hooked, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Another key additive are ammonia compounds, which are added during the manufacturing process in order to mask the harshness of tobacco, or so we are told. Because it creates a smoother feeling when we inhale. But they also create a chemical reaction with nicotine, creating free-based nicotine. Free-based nicotine is delivered to the brain at a much faster rate than normal nicotine, resulting in a more immediate and more intense reaction, which intensifies the addiction.
Big tobacco also adds sugars into cigarettes to make them taste better, removing the bitter flavor of cigarette smoke. Adding sugar also reduces the pH of cigarette smoke, which makes the smoke less harsh and less irritating and makes smoking more appealing, especially to those who are new to smoking. However, when these added sugars burn after one light up a cigarette, they create additional toxic compounds called aldehydes, which increase the potency of nicotine, making cigarettes more addictive, because the brain is more receptive to nicotine, so it absorbs nicotine at a much faster rate.
Levulnic acid is another additive, an organic salt that also masks the harsh quality of smoking, and prevents the smoker’s throat from feeling irritated while smoking. It desensitizes the upper respiratory tract, allowing cigarette smoke to be inhaled more deeply. It also makes the brain more receptive to nicotine, increasing addiction.
Menthol is another biggie. It’s added to some cigarettes to give a cooling sensation when a smoker inhales. Since menthol makes cigarette smoke feel less irritating in the throat, it’s logically believed that big tobacco uses this additive to attract younger people to pick up the habit. Menthol also makes it easier to inhale more deeply, and hold the smoke in longer, increasing exposure to the carcinogens. Now that our nieces have picked up the habit, all 12 of us in our combined families are smokers. My daughter is the sole menthol smoker. As a Newport 100’s smoker (a very strong brand), she is obviously the most hooked of all of us.
Younger women who are contemplating smoking should understand, they’re not deciding to just smoke, they’re deciding to become smokers, often a lifetime decision and commitment.