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Molecular Characterization of Nicotinein Mainstream Cigarette Smoking

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Chemistry, Egerton University, P.O Box 536, Egerton, KENYA
  • 2Department of Physical and Biological Sciences, Moi University, P.O Box 3900, Eldoret, KENYA

Res.J.chem.sci., Volume 5, Issue (5), Pages 73-77, May,18 (2015)


The most studied plant in the plant kingdom owing to its use in form of cigarettes and consequently its poisonous nature is tobacco. This paper therefore investigates one of the most addictive alkaloids (nicotine) in tobacco believed not only to be carcinogenic but also a precursor for other health problems bedeviling smokers. In this work, two commercial cigarette brands, SM1 and ES1 are explored for evolution of nicotine over a modest temperature range of 200 – 700o C at 1 atmosphere under conditions representative of real world cigarette smoking. 1µL of cigarette pyrolysate collected in methanol was injected into a gas-chromatograph hyphenated to a mass selective detector (MSD). The peak area for nicotine for all the pyrolysis temperatures was recorded and consequently, product distribution curves of nicotine in each cigarette brand were reported. It is evident from the results that ES1 cigarette yields high levels of nicotine over the entire pyrolysis temperature range. At 400 C, the concentration of nicotine from ES1 was 7.90 x 108 GC-area counts while that of SM1 was 6.39 x 107 GC-area counts. Nonetheless, the concentration of nicotine for SM1 cigarette brand peaked at about 500 C and decreased exponentially to 8.8 x 107 GC-area counts at 7000C. Based on these results alone, it can be deduced that ES1 cigarette is more toxic than SM1 cigarette. The toxicity indices for nicotine and its corresponding nicotinyl radical were determined using Quantitative Structural Activity Relation (QSAR) in HyperChem computational program and found to be 0.22 and 0.74 respectively. These toxicity values are referenced to the partition coefficient between octanol and water. The consequences of nicotine exposure have also been discussed in this paper.


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