Cigarette smoke is an aerosol consisting of a suspension of minute particles in a vapor and gaseous phase. Many factors affect its composition. These include the composition of the tobacco, physical characteristics of the cigarette, and technique of smoking, among others. In addition to the above parameters, there are two principles involved in cigarette smoke modification by filtration: "mechanical filtration," in which there is simple retention of the particulate (solid) matter, and "adsorption filtration," which consists of selective removal of certain vapors or gases due to the unique properties of some materials of high surface area such as activated charcoal. The tobacco itself in a cigarette acts as a mechanical filter.It might not be amiss to indicate at this point the confusion which exists, especially with reference to the particulate (solid) content of cigarette smoke inasmuch as this is the fraction that contains the nicotine and so-called "tar"
HAAG HB, LARSON PS, FINNEGAN JK. Effect of Filtration on the Chemical and Irritating Properties of Cigarette Smoke. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1959;69(3):261–265. doi:10.1001/archotol.1959.00730030269002
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