While nicotine is what gets people addicted and gives them the buzz to keep using, it is not easily extracted from the plant form of tobacco. In order for it to release chemically, ammonia and other freebasing items are added to the products. American Spirit has often claimed to have no additives or preservatives, but recent research has shown it to have the highest level of free basing ability which indicates higher levels of ammonia. Maybe it’s just made from natural sources…like urine.
Adding ammonia to cigarettes increases the amount of easily absorbed “freebase” nicotine released by smoking, which may make some cigarettes more addictive than others depending on their formulas, the Independent reported July 28.
Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University looked at 11 U.S. cigarette brands and found that some had up to 20 times more freebase nicotine — a form of the drug that is quickly absorbed and transmitted to the brain and central nervous system. Cigarettes with high levels of freebase nicotine probably are more addictive, researchers said.
American Spirit cigarettes, for example, had 36 percent freebase nicotine, compared to 1 percent in a benchmark cigarette, 2.7 percent in Camel, 5-6.2 percent in Winston, and 9.6 percent in Marlboro.
“During smoking, only the freebase form can [evaporate] from a particle into the air in the respiratory tract,” said study leader James Pankow. “Gaseous nicotine is known to deposit super-quickly in the lungs. From there, it’s transported rapidly to the brain. Since scientists have shown that a drug becomes more addictive when it is delivered to the brain more rapidly, freebase nicotine levels in cigarette smoke are thus at the heart of the controversy regarding the tobacco industry’s use of additives such as ammonia and urea.”
The study was published in the January 2003 issue of the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Pankow, J., Barsanti, K., & Peyton, D. (2003) Fraction of Free-Base Nicotine in Fresh Smoke Particulate Matter from the Eclipse “Cigarette” by 1H NMR Spectroscopy. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 16(1): 23-27.
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