Method for the determination of ammonium in cigarette tobacco using ion chromatography
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Method for the determination of ammonium in cigarette tobacco using ion chromatography

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  • Alternative Title:
    Regul Toxicol Pharmacol
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    Ammonia and other alkaline substances have been postulated to be important in cigarette design. The most significant potential contribution of ammonia is a possible interaction with the native, protonated nicotine in the smoke. Ammonia is more alkaline than nicotine and could facilitate a shift in the acid/base equilibrium where a fraction of the total nicotine converts to the more lipophilic, non-protonated form. This non-protonated, or free-base, form of nicotine absorbs more efficiently across membranes, resulting in more rapid delivery to the smoker's bloodstream. Ammonia and other potential ammonia sources, such as additives like diammonium phosphate, could influence the acid-base dynamics in cigarette smoke and ultimately the rate of nicotine delivery. To examine and characterize the ammonia content in modern cigarettes, we developed a fast, simple and reliable ion chromatography based method to measure extractable ammonia levels in cigarette filler. This approach has minimal sample preparation and short run times to achieve high sample throughput. We quantified ammonia levels in tobacco filler from 34 non-mentholated cigarette brands from 3 manufacturers to examine the ranges found across a convenience sampling of popular, commercially available domestic brands and present figures of analytical merit here. Ammonia levels ranged from approximately 0.9 to 2.4mg per gram of cigarette filler between brands and statistically significance differences were observed between brands and manufacturers. Our findings suggest that ammonia levels vary by brand and manufacturer; thus in domestic cigarettes ammonia could be considered a significant design feature because of the potential influence on smoke chemistry.
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