Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of tobcontTobacco ControlVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Tob Control. 2005 December; 14(6): 396–404.
PMCID: PMC1748121

Philip Morris toxicological experiments with fresh sidestream smoke: more toxic than mainstream smoke


Background: Exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer; however, there are little data in the open literature on the in vivo toxicology of fresh sidestream cigarette smoke to guide the debate about smoke-free workplaces and public places.

Objective: To investigate the unpublished in vivo research on sidestream cigarette smoke done by Philip Morris Tobacco Company during the 1980s at its Institut für Biologische Forschung (INBIFO).

Methods: Analysis of internal tobacco industry documents now available at the University of California San Francisco Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and other websites.

Results: Inhaled fresh sidestream cigarette smoke is approximately four times more toxic per gram total particulate matter (TPM) than mainstream cigarette smoke. Sidestream condensate is approximately three times more toxic per gram and two to six times more tumourigenic per gram than mainstream condensate by dermal application. The gas/vapour phase of sidestream smoke is responsible for most of the sensory irritation and respiratory tract epithelium damage. Fresh sidestream smoke inhibits normal weight gain in developing animals. In a 21day exposure, fresh sidestream smoke can cause damage to the respiratory epithelium at concentrations of 2 µg/l TPM. Damage to the respiratory epithelium increases with longer exposures. The toxicity of whole sidestream smoke is higher than the sum of the toxicities of its major constituents.

Conclusion: Fresh sidestream smoke at concentrations commonly encountered indoors is well above a 2 µg/m3 reference concentration (the level at which acute effects are unlikely to occur), calculated from the results of the INBIFO studies, that defines acute toxicity to humans. Smoke-free public places and workplaces are the only practical way to protect the public health from the toxins in sidestream smoke.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (149K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Bero LA, Glantz SA, Rennie D. Publication bias and public health policy on environmental tobacco smoke. JAMA. 1994 Jul 13;272(2):133–136. [PubMed]
  • Barnes DE, Bero LA. Scientific quality of original research articles on environmental tobacco smoke. Tob Control. 1997 Spring;6(1):19–26. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Barnes DE, Bero LA. Why review articles on the health effects of passive smoking reach different conclusions. JAMA. 1998 May 20;279(19):1566–1570. [PubMed]
  • Kennedy GE, Bero LA. Print media coverage of research on passive smoking. Tob Control. 1999 Autumn;8(3):254–260. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Bero Lisa A. Tobacco industry manipulation of research. Public Health Rep. 2005 Mar-Apr;120(2):200–208. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Enstrom James E, Kabat Geoffrey C. Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98. BMJ. 2003 May 17;326(7398):1057–1057. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Malone RE, Balbach ED. Tobacco industry documents: treasure trove or quagmire? Tob Control. 2000 Sep;9(3):334–338. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Alarie Y. Sensory irritation of the upper airways by airborne chemicals. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1973 Feb;24(2):279–297. [PubMed]
  • Kelly JT, Kimbell JS, Asgharian B. Deposition of fine and coarse aerosols in a rat nasal mold. Inhal Toxicol. 2001 Jul;13(7):577–588. [PubMed]
  • Löfroth G, Lazaridis G. Environmental tobacco smoke: comparative characterization by mutagenicity assays of sidestream and mainstream cigarette smoke. Environ Mutagen. 1986;8(5):693–704. [PubMed]
  • Ling PI, Löfroth G, Lewtas J. Mutagenic determination of passive smoking. Toxicol Lett. 1987 Jan;35(1):147–151. [PubMed]
  • Chortyk OT, Chamberlain WJ. A study on the mutagenicity of tobacco smoke from low-tar cigarettes. Arch Environ Health. 1990 Jul-Aug;45(4):237–244. [PubMed]
  • Mohtashamipur E, Mohtashamipur A, Germann PG, Ernst H, Norpoth K, Mohr U. Comparative carcinogenicity of cigarette mainstream and sidestream smoke condensates on the mouse skin. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1990;116(6):604–608. [PubMed]
  • Mohtashamipur E, Steinforth T, Norpoth K. Comparative bone marrow clastogenicity of cigarette sidestream, mainstream and recombined smoke condensates in mice. Mutagenesis. 1988 Sep;3(5):419–422. [PubMed]
  • Haley NJ, Adams JD, Alzofon J, Hoffmann D. Uptake of sidestream smoke by Syrian golden hamsters. Toxicol Lett. 1987 Jan;35(1):83–88. [PubMed]
  • Witschi H, Espiritu I, Maronpot RR, Pinkerton KE, Jones AD. The carcinogenic potential of the gas phase of environmental tobacco smoke. Carcinogenesis. 1997 Nov;18(11):2035–2042. [PubMed]
  • Melkonian Goar, Cheung Lucia, Marr Rebecca, Tong Cathy, Talbot P. Mainstream and sidestream cigarette smoke inhibit growth and angiogenesis in the day 5 chick chorioallantoic membrane. Toxicol Sci. 2002 Jul;68(1):237–248. [PubMed]
  • Fowles J, Dybing E. Application of toxicological risk assessment principles to the chemical constituents of cigarette smoke. Tob Control. 2003 Dec;12(4):424–430. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Haussmann HJ, Anskeit E, Becker D, Kuhl P, Stinn W, Teredesai A, Voncken P, Walk RA. Comparison of fresh and room-aged cigarette sidestream smoke in a subchronic inhalation study on rats. Toxicol Sci. 1998 Jan;41(1):100–116. [PubMed]
  • Schlage WK, Bülles H, Friedrichs D, Kuhn M, Teredesai A, Terpstra P. Tobacco smoke-induced alterations of cytokeratin expression in the rat nasal activity cavity following chronic inhalation of room-aged sidestream smoke. Toxicol Lett. 1998 Aug;96-97:309–318. [PubMed]
  • Stabbert R, Schepers G, Stinn WS, Haussmann HJ. Hemoglobin adducts in rats chronically exposed to room-aged cigarette sidestream smoke and diesel engine exhaust. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2001;500:153–156. [PubMed]
  • Neilsen K, Glantz SA. A tobacco industry study of airline cabin air quality: dropping inconvenient findings. Tob Control. 2004 Mar;13 (Suppl 1):i20–i29. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Tobacco Control are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group