Besides tobacco and water, Philip Morris USA uses a myriad of other chemicals and natural products to get the flavour and smoke just right in Marlboro cigarettes. Many who smoke are vaguely aware of the risks, but don't know the full dangers associated with ingredients they are putting into their bodies through cigarettes.
One of the more commonplace ingredients, sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are the third major ingredient in cigarettes. Although sugars are not toxic and are listed as safe for regular consumption by the FDA, their website does advise consumers to choose foods that are low in added sugars like corn syrup and sucrose.
An ingredient found in both engine coolant and all cigarettes, including Marlboro, propylene glycol is a strong skin and eye irritant. The Natural Health Information Centre lists adverse health effects of ingested propylene glycol as: "throat irritation, headache, backache, kidney problems, oedema (swelling), necrosis (cell death)...drowsiness, slurred speech... vomiting, respiratory failure, coma, convulsions, and death."
These effects are extreme and uncommon cases. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says, "Health is not likely to be seriously affected by the very small amounts," and they do not list propylene glycol as a carcinogen (or cancer-causing agent).
Although it sounds toxic and deadly, this chemical is used not just in cigarettes, but in wines as well. The February 2009 issue of "Wines and Vines" lists DAP as a common chemical found in wineries, but one that can easily be turned into ethyl carbamate, a likely carcinogen. In the wrong dosage, this chemical can cause sulphurous odours.
This mixture of ammonia gasses dissolved in water is also the name for common household ammonia used as a cleaner and solvent. The health risks associated with the colourless liquid can be extreme. According to the National Library of Medicine, ammonium hydroxide poisoning affects the skin, lungs and airways, oesophagus, stomach and heart.
Although many of the effects of ammonia are caused by ingestion of large amounts, smokers should be concerned about the extensive damage it is known to cause the mouth, throat, lungs and oesophagus, which are all directly affected by smoking.
Flavour and Style
There are many natural ingredients in Marlboro cigarettes used to create their signature flavour and style. Liquorice, cocoa, and carob bean extracts are commonly found in cigarettes and are not cancer-causing or habit-forming. However, they are listed toward the bottom of the ingredients list, meaning much less of these natural ingredients are used in the recipe than chemical ones.