Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 553–564 | Cite as

How people think about the chemicals in cigarette smoke: a systematic review

  • Jennifer C. Morgan
  • M. Justin Byron
  • Sabeeh A. Baig
  • Irina Stepanov
  • Noel T. Brewer


Laws and treaties compel countries to inform the public about harmful chemicals (constituents) in cigarette smoke. To encourage relevant research by behavioral scientists, we provide a primer on cigarette smoke toxicology and summarize research on how the public thinks about cigarette smoke chemicals. We systematically searched PubMed in July 2016 and reviewed citations from included articles. Four central findings emerged across 46 articles that met inclusion criteria. First, people were familiar with very few chemicals in cigarette smoke. Second, people knew little about cigarette additives, assumed harmful chemicals are added during manufacturing, and perceived cigarettes without additives to be less harmful. Third, people wanted more information about constituents. Finally, well-presented chemical information increased knowledge and awareness and may change behavior. This research area is in urgent need of behavioral science. Future research should investigate whether educating the public about these chemicals increases risk perceptions and quitting.


Tobacco Constituents Chemicals Ingredients Additives Communication 



The authors thank Dr. Erin Sutfin for her helpful comments on an earlier version of our paper.


Research reported in this publication was supported by Grant Number P50CA180907 from the National Cancer Institute and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the Food and Drug Administration.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

Jennifer C. Morgan, M. Justin Byron, Sabeeh A. Baig, Irina Stepanov, and Noel T. Brewer declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10865_2017_9823_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (45 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer C. Morgan
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Justin Byron
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sabeeh A. Baig
    • 1
    • 2
  • Irina Stepanov
    • 3
  • Noel T. Brewer
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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