Tobacco Fact #8: Tobacco companies added pheromones and weight loss substances to cigarettes!

Studies of tobacco company documents in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (see one of my previous posts: have revealed all kinds of mischief in the internal goings-on of tobacco companies.

There is clear evidence that tobacco companies not only planned to add appetite-suppressants to tobacco, but also that they did actually add such substances, including tartaric acid and 2-acetylpyridine, to cigarettes. Their plans, presumably, were to encourage people to smoke because cigarettes would keep their weight down, but also to increase the likelihood that smokers would gain weight if they quit smoking. Indeed, when I practised Medicine as a physician in the USA, one of the biggest hindrances I had to encouraging people to quit smoking was their fear of weight gain.

The tobacco companies thought of everything and anything. If there was a chance of getting people to smoke more, or reducing their chances of quitting cigarettes, then every conceivable possibility came into their scheming minds. I was amazed to read that they even added isovaleric acid to cigarettes. Isovaleric acid is a component of sex pheromones (chemical substances that attract the opposite sex) of the vaginal secretions of rhesus monkeys and it drives male monkeys wild about them. It’s also produced by pronghorn antelopes and makes male antelopes lick, sniff and thrash around. It almost certainly doesn’t have these effects in humans even if they smoke, because there is no concrete evidence that pheromones are important in human behaviour, but someone working in the tobacco industry had the clever idea of adding it to cigarettes as a possible way of turning smokers into “magnets” of the opposite sex.

I did peruse the list of 599 known cigarette additives (see URL below) and found at least two other known pheromones, 2-heptanone and 2,5-dimethyl pyrazine, that are cigarette additives. They also are food additives to improve flavour and aroma.

In my next post I’ll elaborate on other chemicals that may have been added as pheromones, and in future posts you’ll get the chance to read about some more of the 600 additives that tobacco companies have put into cigarettes for one reason or another, most of them with the aim of keeping people addicted to cigarettes and encouraging them not to quit smoking. I did mention in a previous post how ammonia, when added to cigarettes, increases the availability of the “free base” form of nicotine, and so enhancing their addictiveness, in a similar manner to the way that “freebasing” heroin and crack cocaine occurs in people who use these drugs.


Gonseth, S., Jacot-Sadowski, I., Diethelm, P.A., Barras, V. and Cornuz, J. The tobacco industry’s past role in weight control related to smoking. European Journal of Public Health 2011; 22: 234–237

Rabinoff, M.,Caskey, N., Rissling, A. and Park, C. Pharmacologic and chemical effects of cigarette additives. Government, Politics and Law 2007; 97: 1981-1991


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