Tobacco Constituents, Flavorants, and Paper Permeability of Factory-Made and Roll-Your-Own Cigarettes on the Australian Market

Ashleigh Haynes, Wendy R. Winnall, Emily Brennan, Kimberley Dunstone, Neal L. Benowitz, David L. Ashley, Jonathan M. Samet, Dorothy K. Hatsukami, Melanie A. Wakefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco is a popular choice in Australia, with some people who smoke finding these products more attractive than factory-made cigarettes (FMC). Differences in visual and tactile properties and in the feel and taste of the smoke may contribute to this attractiveness. These differences may be driven by variation in tobacco constituents and wrapping paper permeability. However, to date, there has been no comparison of RYO and FMC products on the Australian market. Aims and Methods: Chemical constituents, pH, flavorants, and paper permeability were compared in unburned RYO tobacco and tobacco from FMC. RYO and FMC products from matched brands were compared, as were products from the most popular FMC and RYO brands on the Australian market in 2018. Results: RYO tobacco had higher moisture and humectant content (glycerol and propylene glycol) than FMC tobacco. RYO tobacco also had higher amounts of total and reducing sugars and lower nicotine when comparing the most popular brands. RYO papers were less permeable than FMC papers. Both RYO and FMC tobacco contained many chemicals identified as flavorants, including fourteen with known potential health risks. For most measured constituents and flavorants, RYO tobaccos had more in common with other RYO than FMC, with the commonalities remaining even when matched brands were compared. Conclusions: Higher levels of moisture, humectants, and sugars in Australian RYO tobacco compared to FMC may be increasing attractiveness of RYO by reducing the harsh taste of the smoke and increasing the moist feel of the tobacco. Implications: While price is the main factor driving the use of RYO tobacco, some people who smoke find these products more attractive. This study has shown that Australian RYO tobacco contains higher amounts of glycerol, propylene glycol, and sugars than FMC. These chemicals may be improving the taste of the tobacco, as well as creating a moist feel that is falsely perceived as indicating that the tobacco is “fresh” and “less chemically.” Ironically, it may be that higher amounts of some added chemicals in RYO contribute to false perceptions of a more natural and less harmful product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved.


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