Warning – Another Pankow article on free-base nicotine is on its way

As some of you may know, I have been at the forefront in providing scientific critique of Jim Pankow’s attempts since 1997 to misrepresent the amount of free-base (unprotonated) nicotine (FBN) in mainstream cigarette smoke.  The lastest Pankow article appeared on March 13 in the Articles ASAP section of the web edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (J. Agric. Food Chem., Article ASAP • DOI: 10.1021/jf803018x • Publication Date (Web): 13 March 2009).  Research was partially funded by attorneys from Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman and Robbins LLP (anti-tobacco folks), contained many nonrelevant citations, questionable data (deliveries determined under MDPH conditions less than those reported for FTC smoking), and the claim that filter cigarettes were smoked to 23 mm butt length.  While Pankow’s data are now showing FBN to be 0.03% or less of total mainstream nicotine, their validity is questionable.  Indeed, Pankow admits to having a problem explaining why his FBN numbers are so much lower than he had reported previously.



#1 Bill Godshall on 04.01.09 at 12:20 PM

While addictive, nicotine is one of the least hazardous components in tobacco smoke. As such, I don’t understand the relevance of this posting. Also, could JHL please identify himself/herself.

#2 john rolfe on 04.10.09 at 5:45 PM

Hey JHL,

For those of us who are not scientists and who believe like Bill that nicotine is not the issue, can you tell us what free-base nicotine means, how it is different from nicotine, and why we should be concerned about this?

#3 Bill Godshall on 04.10.09 at 5:53 PM

I was under the impression that smoking a Marlboro was free basing nicotine (as smoking crack is free basing cocaine).

You’ll never hear if from abstinence-only War on Drugs proponents, but snorting cocaine is also a harm reduction alternative to smoking crack.

#4 tobaccotoxdoc on 04.11.09 at 10:54 PM

If I buy a bottle of nicotine from a lab supply house, it is plain nicotine. The nitrogen atoms are not protonated. Pankow and others have called such nicotine, free-base nicotine to make the analogy with cocaine; however, it is a very bad analogy.

Mainstream cigarette smoke is generally acidic, especially when people puff harder and more frequently than the FTC smoking machines. The one main exception would be a 100-mm long cigarette with 80+% filter ventilation and smoked under FTC conditions. All of above fits with Jim Pankow’s theory of absorptive partitioning; but Pankow won’t believe his own theory as it doesn’t give the politically correct results. Indeed, Pankow, in his lastest work, admits that the amount of free-base nicotine in the smoke of a Marlboro is very, very small.

Pankow’s work has been funded by those who are trying to win court cases by attempting to show cigarette companies made special efforts (use of ammonia) to put free-base nicotine in cigarette smoke. We now know that the ammonia does many other things, but does not make free-base nicotine.


#5 kody on 06.06.11 at 10:41 AM

free base nicotine reaches th brain faster and has stronger binding affinity to nicotinic receptors in the nervous system… ciggarettes with high levels of freebase are stronger, faster(the buzz) and more addicting, the nicotine reaches the brain relativly quickly compared to nicotines other forms and thats why it is compared to crack coccaine

#6 tobaccotoxdoc on 06.06.11 at 12:39 PM

Hello Kody:

You have it wrong. A government funded study published last year in the leading journal on regulatory toxicology knocked Pankow off the map. This was not a theoretical study, but solid experimental work with commercial cigarettes, both with and without ammonia treatment. Perhaps the list administrator will send you a reprint if I send him one.

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