AskDefine | Define cigarettes

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  1. Plural of cigarette



  • lang=fr|/si.ɡa.ʁɛt/
  • /


cigarettes f|p
  1. Plural of cigarette

Extensive Definition

A cigarette is a product consumed through smoking and manufactured out of cured and finely cut tobacco leaves and reconstituted tobacco, combined with other additives then rolled or stuffed into a paper-wrapped cylinder (generally less than 120mm in length and 10mm in diameter). The cigarette is ignited at one end and allowed to smoulder for the purpose of inhalation of its smoke from the other (usually filtered) end, which is inserted in the mouth. They are sometimes smoked with a cigarette holder. The term cigarette, as commonly used, refers to a tobacco cigarette but can apply to similar devices containing other herbs, such as cannabis.
Cigarettes are proven to be highly addictive, as well as a cause of multiple types of cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, circulatory disease, birth defects (which include mental and physical disability) and emphysema.
A cigarette is distinguished from a cigar by its smaller size, use of processed leaf, and white paper wrapping. Cigars are typically composed entirely of whole-leaf tobacco.
Cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive stimulant which is toxic. They deliver smoke to the lungs immediately and produce a rapid psychoactive effect.


The earliest forms of cigarettes have been attested in Central America around the 9th century in the form of reeds and smoking tubes. The Maya, and later the Aztecs, smoked tobacco and various psychoactive drugs in religious rituals and frequently depicted priests and deities smoking on pottery and temple engravings. The cigarette, and the cigar, were the most common method of smoking in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America until recent times.
Cigarettes were largely unknown in the English-speaking world before the Crimean War, when British soldiers began emulating their Ottoman Turkish comrades, who resorted to rolling their tobacco with newsprint.
The cigarette was named some time in the 18th century: beggars in Seville began to pick from the ground the cigar ends left by the señoritos ("rich, young men"), wrapped the tobacco remains with paper and smoked them. The first attested use in this habit can be seen in three 18th-century paintings by Francisco de Goya: La cometa (The Kite), La merienda en el Manzanares (Picnic by the River Manzanares) and El juego de la pelota a pala (The Ball and Paddle Game).
In the George Bizet opera Carmen, which was set in Spain in the 1830s, the title character Carmen was at first a worker in a cigarette factory.
The use of tobacco in cigarette form became increasingly popular during and after the Crimean War. This was helped by the development of tobaccos that are suitable for cigarette use. During World War I and World War II, cigarettes were rationed to soldiers. During the second half of the 20th century, the adverse health effects of cigarettes started to become widely known and text-only health warnings became commonplace on cigarette packets. The United States has not yet implemented graphical cigarette warning labels, which is considered a more effective method to communicate to the public the dangers of cigarette smoking. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, however, have both textual warnings and graphic visual images displaying, among other things, the damaging effects tobacco use has on the human body.
The cigarette has evolved much since its conception; for example, the thin bands that travel transverse to the "axis of smoking" (thus forming circles along the length of the cigarette) are alternate sections of thin and thick paper to facilitate effective burning when being drawn, and retard burning when at rest. Synthetic particulate filters remove some of the tar before it reaches the smoker.


Commercially manufactured cigarettes are seemingly simple objects consisting mainly of a tobacco blend, paper, PVA glue to bond the outer layer of paper together, and often also a cellulose acetate–based filter. While the assembly of cigarettes is straightforward, much focus is given to the creation of each of the components, in particular the tobacco blend, which may contain over 100 ingredients, many of them flavourants for the tobacco. A key ingredient that makes cigarettes more addictive is the inclusion of reconstituted tobacco, which has additives to make nicotine more volatile as the cigarette burns.
The burn rate of cigarette paper is regulated through the application of different forms of microcrystalline cellulose to the paper. Cigarette paper has been specially engineered by creating bands of different porosity to create "fire-safe" cigarettes. These cigarettes have a reduced idle burning speed which allows them to self-extinguish. This fire-safe paper is manufactured by mechanically altering the setting of the paper slurry.
New York was the first U.S. state to mandate that all cigarettes manufactured or sold within the state comply with a fire-safe standard. Canada has passed a similar nation-wide mandate based on the same standard. Many other U.S. states have passed or are considering fire-safe mandates.
Modern cigarettes produced after the 1950s, although composed mainly of shredded tobacco leaf, use a significant quantity of tobacco processing by-products in the blend. Each cigarette's tobacco blend is made mainly from the leaves of flue-cured brightleaf, burley tobacco, and oriental tobacco. These leaves are selected, processed, and aged prior to blending and filling. The processing of brightleaf and burley tobaccos for tobacco leaf "strips" produces several by-products such as leaf stems, tobacco dust, and tobacco leaf pieces ("small laminate").
  • Reconstituted leaf (RL) sheet: a paper-like material made from recycled tobacco fines, tobacco stems and "class tobacco", which consists of tobacco particles less than 30 mesh in size (~0.599 mm) that are collected at any stage of tobacco processing. RL is made by extracting the soluble chemicals in the tobacco by-products, processing the leftover tobacco fibres from the extraction into a paper, and then reapplying the extracted materials in concentrated form onto the paper in a fashion similar to what is done in paper sizing. At this stage ammonium additives are applied to make reconstituted tobacco an effective nicotine delivery system. The stem is first crushed and cut to resemble the leaf before being merged or blended into the cut leaf.


Cigarettes are a significant source of tax revenue in many localities. This fact has historically been an impediment for health groups seeking to discourage cigarette smoking, since governments seek to maximize tax revenues. Furthermore, some countries have made cigarettes a state monopoly, which has the same effect on the attitude of government officials outside the health field. In the United States, the states determine the rate of cigarette taxes, and states where tobacco is a significant farm product tend to tax cigarettes least. It has been shown that higher prices for cigarettes discourage smoking. Every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduced youth smoking by about seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by about four percent. Thus increased cigarette taxes are proposed as a means to reduce smoking.
Many people in the UK now illegally import cigarettes due to the increasing tax. A packet is less than half the price in all other countries, making illegal importers a large profit, while still providing very cheap cigarettes. The average price for 20 legal cigarettes is £5.20, while imported packs are sold for less than £3, this is due to the extreme taxation.


Before the Second World War many manufacturers gave away collectible cards, one in each packet of cigarettes. This practice was discontinued to save paper during the war and was never generally reintroduced, though for a number of years Natural American Spirit cigarettes included "vignette" cards depicting endangered animals and American historical events; this series was discontinued in 2003. On April 1, 1970 President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law, banning cigarette advertisements on television in the United States starting on January 2, 1971. However, some tobacco companies attempted to circumvent the ban by marketing new brands of cigarettes as "little cigars"; examples included Tijuana Smalls, which came out almost immediately after the ban took effect, and Backwoods Smokes, which reached the market in the winter of 1973–1974 and whose ads used the slogan, "How can anything that looks so wild taste so mild."
Beginning on April 1, 1998, the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to people under 18 is now prohibited by law in all fifty states of the United States. The legal age of purchase has been additionally raised to 19 in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey, Utah, and Nassau, Suffolk, and Onondaga Counties in New York. The intended effect of this is to prevent upper class high school students from purchasing cigarettes for their younger peers. Legislation was pending as of 2004 in some other states. In Massachusetts and Virginia, parents and guardians are allowed to give cigarettes to minors, but sales to minors are prohibited.
Similar laws exist in many other countries. In Canada, most of the provinces require smokers to be 19 years of age to purchase cigarettes (except for Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, where the age is 18). However, the minimum age only concerns the purchase of tobacco, not use. Alberta, however, does have a law which prohibits the possession or use of tobacco products by all persons under 18, punishable by a $100 fine. Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan have a nationwide ban on the selling of all tobacco products to people under the age of 18.
Since 1 October 2007, it has been illegal for retailers to sell tobacco in all forms to people under the age of 18 in three of four of the UK's constituent countries (England, Wales and Scotland) (rising from 16). It will also be illegal to sell lighters, rolling papers and all other tobacco-associated items to people under 18. However, it will not be illegal for people under 18 to buy or smoke tobacco; it is only illegal for the said retailer to sell the item. Northern Ireland is expected to follow suit with the age increase. In the Republic of Ireland, bans on the sale of the smaller ten-packs and confectionery that resembles tobacco products came into force on May 31, 2007 in a bid to cut underaged smoking. The UK Department of Health plans to follow suit with the ten-pack ban. Most countries in the world have a legal smoking age of 18. Five exceptions are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, and the Netherlands, where the age is 16. Since January 1, 2007, all cigarette machines in public places in Germany must attempt to verify a customer's age by requiring the insertion of a debit card. Turkey, which has one of the highest percentage of smokers in its population, has a legal age of 18. Another curiosity is Japan, one of the highest tobacco-consuming nations, which requires purchasers to be 20 years of age (suffrage in Japan is 20 years old). However, due to the prevalence of cigarette vending machines in the most public of places, the effectiveness of an underage ban is in doubt. In other countries, such as Egypt, it is legal to use and purchase tobacco products regardless of age. Germany raised the purchase age from 16 to 18 on the 1 September 2007.
Some police departments in the United States occasionally send an underaged teenager into a store where cigarettes are sold, and have the teen attempt to purchase cigarettes, with their own or no ID. If the vendor then completes the sale, the store is issued a fine. Similar enforcement practices are regularly performed by Trading Standards Officers in the UK and the Gardaí Siochana, the police force of the Republic of Ireland.


Approximately 5.5 trillion cigarettes are produced globally each year by the tobacco industry, smoked by over 1.1 billion people, which is more than one-sixth of the world's total population.
Smoking Prevalence by Gender PERCENT SMOKING REGIONMENWOMEN Africa294 United States3522 Eastern Mediterranean354 Europe4626 Southeast Asia444 Western Pacific608 (2000, World Health Organization estimates)
globalize table
Smoking Prevalence in the U.S. (2006) Source: Center for Disease Control RankState% RankState% RankState% RankState%
1 KY 28.6 14 SC 22.3 27 KS 20.0 40 AZ 18.1
2 WV 25.7 15 NV 22.2 28 GA 20.0 41 VT 18.0
3 OK 25.1 16 NC 22.1 29 ND 19.6 42 DC 17.9
4 MS 25.1 17 DE 21.7 30 VA 19.3 43 CO 17.9
5 AK 24.2 18 WY 21.6 31 RI 19.3 44 MA 17.8
6 IN 24.1 19 PA 21.5 32 MT 19.0 45 MD 17.8
7 AR 23.7 20 IA 21.5 33 NH 18.7 46 HI 17.5
8 LA 23.4 21 FL 21.0 34 NE 18.6 47 WA 17.1
9 MO 23.3 22 ME 20.9 35 OR 18.5 48 CT 17.0
10 AL 23.3 23 WI 20.8 36 NY 18.3 49 ID 16.8
11 TN 22.6 24 IL 20.5 37 MN 18.3 50 CA 14.9
12 OH 22.5 25 SD 20.4 38 TX 18.1 51 UT 9.8
13 MI 22.4 26 NM 20.2 39 NJ 18.1

Graphics on cigarette packets

Some countries require cigarette packs to contain warnings about health. The United States was one of the first. Other countries include most of Europe, Australia and in Asia.

Smoking bans

Many governments impose restrictions on smoking tobacco, especially in public areas. The primary justification has been the negative health effects of secondhand smoke. Laws vary by country and locality. See:

Cigarette litter

The common name for is the residue after cigarette-smoking process is a "cigarette butt" or simply "butt". It comprises about 30% of the cigarette's original length. The butt consists of a tissue tube which holds a filter and some remains of tobacco mixed with ash. In extreme cases the filter is slightly burned. Cigarette butts are one source of tobacco for children and poor people. The shape of a butt hinges on the manner of stubbing out. The intensely pressed butt possesses irregular shape at the end and wrinkled tissue. Cigarette butts may be a subject of studies over popularity of brands producing cigarettes.
Cigarette butts are a commonly littered item throughout the world. Discarded butts can be found almost any place accessible to people, including streets, sidewalks, parks and beaches. The butts of filtered cigarettes are not biodegradable. The filters, made of cellulose acetate, take many years to decompose. Many of the filters end up in waterways, where the toxic chemicals that they are designed to filter out find their way into the water supply.
A butt which is not properly extinguished can be a cause of a blaze. Cigarette butts are usually unfit for reuse due to inadequate tobacco and a used filter. Ashtrays and cigarette bins are designed for containing them.

Cigarette advertising

In many parts of the world tobacco advertising and even sponsorship of sporting events has been outlawed. The ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship in the EU in 2005 has prompted Formula One Management to look for races in areas that allow the tobacco sponsored teams to display their livery. As of 2007, only the Scuderia Ferrari retains tobacco sponsorship, continuing their relationship with Marlboro until 2011.
In some jurisdictions, such as Saskatchewan, Canada, the retail store display of cigarettes is completely prohibited if persons under the legal age of consumption have access to the premises


  • Bogden JD, Kemp FW, Buse M, Thind IS, Louria DB, Forgacs J, Llanos G, Moncoya Terrones I. (1981) Composition of tobaccos from countries with high and low incidences of lung cancer. I. Selenium, polonium-210, Alternaria, tar, and nicotine. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 66: 27-31.
  • Hecht SS (1999) Tobacco Smoke Carcinogens and Lung Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute
  • Smoke: A Global History of Smoking (2004) edited by Sander L. Gilman and Zhou Xun ISBN 1-86189-200-4
cigarettes in Afrikaans: Sigaret
cigarettes in Arabic: سيجارة
cigarettes in Bosnian: Cigareta
cigarettes in Catalan: Cigarreta
cigarettes in Czech: Cigareta
cigarettes in Danish: Cigaret
cigarettes in German: Zigarette
cigarettes in Modern Greek (1453-): Τσιγάρο
cigarettes in Spanish: Cigarrillo
cigarettes in Esperanto: Cigaredo
cigarettes in Persian: سیگار
cigarettes in French: Cigarette
cigarettes in Korean: 궐련
cigarettes in Indonesian: Rokok
cigarettes in Icelandic: Sígaretta
cigarettes in Italian: Sigaretta
cigarettes in Hebrew: סיגריה
cigarettes in Latin: Sigarellum
cigarettes in Lithuanian: Cigaretė
cigarettes in Dutch: Sigaret
cigarettes in Japanese: 紙巻きタバコ
cigarettes in Norwegian: Sigarett
cigarettes in Norwegian Nynorsk: Sigarett
cigarettes in Uzbek: Sigareta
cigarettes in Polish: Papieros
cigarettes in Portuguese: Cigarro
cigarettes in Quechua: Siyaru
cigarettes in Russian: Сигарета
cigarettes in Simple English: Cigarette
cigarettes in Silesian: Cygareta
cigarettes in Slovak: Cigareta
cigarettes in Serbian: Цигарета
cigarettes in Finnish: Savuke
cigarettes in Swedish: Cigarett
cigarettes in Thai: บุหรี่
cigarettes in Vietnamese: Thuốc lá
cigarettes in Turkish: Sigara
cigarettes in Ukrainian: Сигарети
cigarettes in Vlaams: Sigrette
cigarettes in Yiddish: ציגארעט
cigarettes in Samogitian: Cėgarėits
cigarettes in Chinese: 香煙
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