Comprehensive chemical characterisation of Rapé tobacco products: Nicotine, un-ionised nicotine, tobacco-specific N’-nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and flavour constituents

Rapé, a diverse group of smokeless tobacco products indigenous to South America, is generally used as a nasal snuff and contains substantial amount of plant material with or without tobacco. Previously uncharacterised, rapé contains addictive and harmful chemicals that may have public health implications for users. The present study reports the percentage moisture, pH, and the levels of total nicotine, un-ionised nicotine, flavour-related compounds, tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for manufactured and hand-made rapé. The results showed that most rapé products were mildly acidic (pH 5.17-6.23) with total nicotine ranging from 6.32 to 47.6 milligram per gram of sample (mg/g). Calculated un-ionised nicotine ranged from 0.03 to 18.5 mg/g with the highest values associated with hand-made rapés (pH 9.75-10.2), which contain alkaline ashes. In tobacco-containing rapés, minor alkaloid levels and Fourier transform infrared spectra were used to confirm the presence of Nicotiana rustica, a high nicotine tobacco species. There was a wide concentration range of TSNAs and PAHs among the rapés analysed. Several TSNAs and PAHs identified in the products are known or probable carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The authors conclude that milligram quantities of some non-tobacco constituents, such as camphor, coumarin, and eugenol, warrant additional evaluation.

Authors: Stanfill SB, Oliveira da Silva AL, Lisko JG, Lawler TS, Kuklenyik P, Tyx RE, Peuchen EH, Richter P, Watson CH. ;Full Source: Food & Chemical Toxicology. 2015 Apr 28;82:50-58. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2015.04.016. [Epub ahead of print] ;