Industry Response: DDT as an Ingredient in Cigarettes
Cigarettes are found to contain approximately 600 ingredients and produce more than 7,000 chemicals when burnt. While most of them remain toxic, 93 are proven as Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents causing cancer, respiratory toxicity, cardiovascular toxicity, addiction, reproductive failure or developmental failure. During the increase public awareness on this fact, cigarette companies were accused of including ingredients ‘harmful’ for health. A similar accusation was made against the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) in 1984.
Accusation was based on an analysis report received by the Ministry of Health from the Food Research Laboratory of Finland’s Technical Centre. Daily news journalist William De Alwis, quotes the report stating “The six brands analysed according to the Finish laboratory, were relatively high tar cigarettes with high hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde content in the smoke, with high pesticide residues in the tobacco material”. He further reports that who requested the analysis seems “vague”.
The same reporter quotes two officials from CTC defying the report based on the following arguments;
- The length of the cigarettes mentioned in the report being 1mm less than the tested brands produced by the CTC
- The report states traces of DDT was found whereas CTC only use Demeton and Acephate. According to the Leaf Manager S. B. Rajakaruna “…Neither of them belong to the dread family of chlorinated hydrocarbons…..We definitely do not use it, our growers spray only what we supply them under our supervision”
- The pesticides used by the CTC are identical to the ones used for chillies and vegetables in the country
- Test done in the Finish laboratory being a one-off exercise. CTC regularly monitor their products and one equipment used in the Finish laboratory is the same as that used by CTC.
However, a letter dated 1992 July 07 to CTC found in the British American Tobacco (BAT) documents collection of the Truth Tobacco Library, states “Residue tests to meet Bat Co. guidelines should include Acephate, Maleic hydrazide, as well as persistent chlorinated hydrocarbons”, confirming the possibility of getting traces of chlorinated hydrocarbons in their products.
Other relevant TobaccoUnmasked entries:
- American Lung Association, What’s In a Cigarette, 2017, accessed February 2017
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents in Tobacco Products and Tobacco Smoke: Established List April 2012, 12 January 2015, accessed February 2017
- De Alwis W. Ceylon Tobacco defends its products. 22 May 1984, British American Tobacco Records, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates No: 104682284, accessed February 2017
- Unknown. Sri Lanka - Ceylon Tobacco Co. 1992 July 07, British American Tobacco Records, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates No: 104682284, accessed February 2017