Following the 1998 “Master Settlement Agreement” between the tobacco industry and 46 U.S. states, U.S. tobacco companies made their internal documents available on the internet. Research into these documents indicates that, in the past, tobacco companies enhanced the effects of smoking on appetite and weight by adding appetite-suppressant agents into cigarettes.

During the 1960s, tobacco giant Phillip Morris put a substance containing tartaric acid into its cigarettes in order to reduce smokers’ appetite. This substance was also added to British American Tobacco cigarettes, although researchers did not find at which date, and if it is still the case. The substance 2-acetylpyridine is also claimed as an appetite-reducing molecule and is one of the tobacco additives disclosed on many past lists of cigarette ingredients.

These are important findings in the fight against tobacco addiction because most smokers want to stop smoking, but the fear of weight gain sometimes outweighs the perception of potential health benefits associated with quitting smoking, particularly in women.

According to the study first published in April 2011 in the European Journal of Public Health, the findings may help smokers and the health care community to understand at least partially why cigarette smoking is producing the effect of reducing appetite, and could explain in part why smokers weigh in general less than non-smokers.

“Although little is known in the medical literature about the anti-appetite effect of the above cited substances, we can make the hypothesis that the weight gain following smoking cessation could be a ‘rebound effect’ of discontinuation of the daily consumption of an anti-appetite substance through cigarette smoking, as it is known for the use of other anti-appetite substances,” the study said.

1. Gonseth S, Jacot-Sadowski I, Diethelm PA, et al. The tobacco industry’s past role in weight control related to smoking. European Journal of Public Health, published online 7 April 2011. (open access)