It helped make nicotine moreish
WHY are cigarettes so addictive? It’s not just the nicotine — it may also be thanks to the addition of sugar. It’s a little told story, but was detailed in a 1950 Sugar Research Foundation report.
‘Were it not for sugar,’ says the U.S. Department of Agriculture tobacco official, ‘the USA tobacco industry would not have achieved such tremendous development.’
At the start of the last century, tobacco for cigars and pipes lacked two elements crucial to massive sales. First, the smoke was hard to inhale deeply and not particularly pleasant because it was alkaline. Then, when growers found a way to cure it so the smoke was more acidic and therefore easier to inhale, the process reduced the nicotine content.
But in 1913 a new brand, Camel, had a breakthrough. Adding sugar to tobacco during curing maintained the acidity and kept the nicotine level up, for a more addictive hit. By 1929, U.S. growers were pouring 50 million pounds of sugar on their crop. There is no evidence they have stopped the practice.
But turning the smoke acid made cigarettes more carcinogenic, according to Dutch research in 2006. As a cigarette burns down, the acidity increases, reducing nicotine, so smokers suck harder at the point when the tar and carcinogen content is highest.