As a smoker, it is important for us to aware of the content of cigarettes we consume. So, what’s popped out in your mind if you are asked about cigarettes content?
Seems like it is the most familiar substance in cigarette that most people know, and that’s correct. Another question: do you know how much nicotine contained in tobacco leaves?
No? That’s okay. Good for you to be here since we would like to share with you about that.
As most of us know, tobacco leaves contain nicotine, as a specific organic compound, which in the very low concentrations can be beneficial for brain relaxation. In addition, this compound can also cause addiction as a psychological stimulation for smokers.
There are three types of nicotine levels in tobacco leaves, comprised of low nicotine level (less than 2%), middle nicotine level (2-3%), and high nicotine levels (more than 3%). High quality tobacco is generally the tobacco with high nicotine level.
The high and low nicotine levels in tobacco leaves is influenced by several factors, including the tobacco varieties, the leaves position, the plant spacing, and the plant cultivation techniques.
Nicotine produced by tobacco roots will be transferred to the leaves, starting from the lower leaves to the top. The lowest leaf will have the highest nicotine level.
The nicotine levels begin to decrease from the leaves of the feet, and will get lower in the middle leaves. Because the nicotine distribution will stop at the tip, the nicotine levels in tip will increase again.
Besides the position of the leaves, next factor that influences the nicotine level in tobacco leaves is the type of tobacco itself. Burley, Vike, RAM, Madura (Prancak N1 and Prancak N2), Virginia (DB, Coker, NC, T45) are the types of tobacco that have low nicotine content.
The tobacco includes in the middle category consist of Madura (Indonesian varieties), Kasturi, Paiton, Lumajang VO. The highest nicotine level can be found in Javanese tobacco (it is up to 5-7%).
Other thing that affects nicotine level is the spacing of tobacco trees. A narrow spacing will produce thin, narrow tobacco leaves with low nicotine levels.
Conversely, a wide spacing will produce thick, broad leaves with higher nicotine levels.
In addition, the cultivation method can also affect the nicotine levels in tobacco leaves. The use of fertilizers that contain nitrogen can affect the nicotine levels in tobacco leaves.
Low doses of nitrogen fertilizer will produce small leaves with low nicotine level. In contrast, high doses of N will produce thick, heavy tobacco, and high nicotine level.
However, if it is too high the leaves produced will be porous. Pruning techniques will also affect the amount of nicotine levels. Earlier pruning by leaving fewer leaves will result in thick and wide leaves with high nicotine content.
Conversely slower pruning, in which waiting for the flowers come out first and leaving more leaves, will produce thinner, narrower leaves with lower nicotine levels.
Nicotine is indeed a substance that is actually dangerous for consumption, with some conditions. Nicotine can be declared deadly if it is consumed as much as 60 mg of nicotine at one time. Nicotine will not be dangerous if it is consumed less than 5 mg per day.
The body will absorb 10% of nicotine contained in each cigarette. Additionally, in one cigarette, there is 2% nicotine content.
If one cigarette contains 0.75 g of tobacco, then the nicotine content in a cigarette is 15 mg. So, 10% of 15 mg of nicotine, which will be absorbed by the body, is 1.5 mg.
Nowadays, the size of cigarettes is made smaller, so the amount of tobacco needed will be even less. Producing tobacco with low nicotine levels (2-3%) is being intensified to make the smoking activity ‘healthier’ and ‘safer’ for our bodies.
- Membunuh Indonesia. (2016). Kadar Nikotin pada Tembakau.
- Tirtosastro, S. & A. S. Murdiyati. (2010). Kandungan kimia tembakau dan rokok. Buletin Tanaman Tembakau, Serat & Minyak Industri, 2(1), 33-43.