Beitr. Tabakforsch. Int./Contrib. Tob. Research, 2009, 23-5, p. 277-333., ISSN.0173-783X

The chemical components identified in tobacco and tobacco smoke prior to 1954: a chronology of classical chemistry

Alan RODGMAN, 2828 Birchwood Drive, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27103-3410, USA
Because of the excellent fractionation and identification technologies developed during the early-1950s, the compositions of tobacco and tobacco smoke, both classified as highly complex mixtures, have been defined more completely than the composition of any other highly complex commercial product such as coffee. By year-end 1953, the many years of research by scientists using classical chemical techniques to define the composition of tobacco and its smoke provided meaningful information on the nature of over 300 tobacco components and fewer than 100 tobacco smoke components. Those involved in the pre-1954 research not only provided the cornerstone of our knowledge of the two compositions but also deserve the gratitude of their successors for the early information generated on tobacco and its smoke. This article is our tribute to those researchers who generated much meaningful knowledge on the composition of tobacco and tobacco smoke prior to 1954 despite the now known fractionation and analytical limitations of the so-called classical chemical techniques. It also notes the similarity of some of the early and more recent research results obtained on the chemical and biological properties of smoke condensate and several of its components from tobacco with those obtained by ROFFO in the 1930s on a destructive distillate of tobacco.