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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2008 Apr;50(3):359-65. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2008.01.001. Epub 2008 Jan 16.

Could charcoal filtration of cigarette smoke reduce smoking-induced disease? A review of the literature.

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  • 1Carson Watts Consulting, King, NC 27021, USA.


A review of the published work with charcoal-filtered cigarettes indicates that there are reductions in the concentrations for many gas-vapor phase constituents found in mainstream smoke. However, charcoal filters provided no apparent capacity for reduction of smoke particulate phase components. The reductions in gas-vapor phase smoke chemistry analytes generally correspond with findings of reduced toxicological activity, principally related to a reduction in the cytotoxic action of the volatile smoke constituents. Results of a short-term clinical study show small reductions in the biomarkers of the gas-vapor phase smoke constituents in subjects smoking charcoal-filtered cigarettes, compared to subjects smoking non-charcoal filtered cigarettes. The very limited epidemiology data (a single study) fail to demonstrate a conclusive beneficial effect of charcoal-filtered cigarette products compared to non-charcoal filtered cigarette products. Review of the scientific literature is hindered due to the lack of documentation regarding the activity of the charcoal used in the filter, and the inconsistency in product designs used between the various different disciplines (chemistry, pre-clinical, clinical and epidemiology) that have conducted studies with charcoal filtered cigarettes. There do not appear to be any published studies using a combination of data from the different disciplines based on a consistently designed charcoal cigarette filter. Although the literature presently available would suggest that smoke filtration provided by current charcoal filter techniques alone may not be substantial enough to reduce smoking-related disease, the data are limited. Therefore, for the reduction of smoking-induced disease, it is difficult to come to a definitive conclusion regarding the potential health benefits of using charcoal as a smoke filtration technology.

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