The Investigation of Particulate Matter 2.5 Emission From Cigarettes Compared Too Cigarillos

The Investigation of Particulate Matter 2.5 Emission From Cigarettes Compared Too Cigarillos        

Particulate matter (PM), specifically PM2.5, can have primary sources such as coal burning, industrial emissions, soil and construction dust, vehicle emissions, and second-hand smoke. While cigarette smoking has decreased by 49% over the last twenty years, cigar consumption has increased by 118%.  A point of concern rises because cigars and cigarillos are far less studied than cigarettes. Are the effects of the two tobacco products on Air pollution the same? This unresolved question stems from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the significant increase of cigar consumption that they report  on their website(

The goal of our experiment is to determine which tobacco product will produce the most PM2.5. It was decided to compare the PM2.5 emissions between cigarettes and cigarillos instead of with cigarettes and cigars as cigarillos are still made solely of tobacco leaf and tobacco, but are more similar in length and mass to cigarettes. Our hypothesis is that the chemicals in cigarettes will produce more PM2.5 emissions than that of cigarillos that companies claim to be a  more natural product. We also predicted that the PM2.5 emission rate per gram of cigarette burned would be more than that of a cigarillo burned, and as you are farther away from the source, the particulate matter will drop off more for cigarillos than cigarettes. 

To test our hypothesis, we created an experiment using an Atmotube sensor, which measures PM2.5 in the surrounding air. “Marlboro Red” cigarettes and “Swisher Sweet” cigarillos are the products being tested from each version of tobacco. Using a tape measure, distances of 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 feet were measured out from the Atmotube sensor, which was resting on a flat surface. At the eleventh foot we placed a box fan that was running on the lowest  setting to be sure that the sidestream from the burning tobacco products went in the direction of the sensor. For five minutes at each distance the cigarettes and cigarillos were lit with a “Bic” lighter and left to rest on the flat surface allowing the sensor to read the PM2.5 values. In between each data collection five minutes was taken in order to allow the sensor to recalibrate to the ambient air. The experiment was also done in a corridor so that wind could not play a factor error. 

The results varied such that PM 2.5 side stream emission from cigarettes at 1, 3, and 5 feet was greater than cigarillos and from 7 to 10 feet cigarillos emitted more side stream PM 2.5. We also calculated the PM2.5 emission rate per gram of cigarette and cigarillo  burned. The rate of emissions for cigarettes were 54.17 mg of PM2.5 per g smoked and cigarillos were 10.27 mg of PM2.5 per g smoked. 

The data from 1, 3, and 5 feet supported our hypothesis that cigarettes emit more PM2.5 from side stream smoke rather than cigarillos. However there was a disparity in our data at 7 and 10 feet. This can be attributed to the fan that sat at exactly 11 feet away from the sensor for every trial. Therefore, as the burning sample moved closer to the fan more of the side stream smoke was artificially moved towards the sensor by the fan. This effect can be seen for both cigarettes and cigarillos that at 7 and 10 feet away from the sensor the PM 2.5 concentrations increased, which can be attributed to moving closer to the fan. While there are points in the experiment that can be improved, initial testing of the proposed hypothesis ultimately displays that the concentration of PM 2.5 emissions from sidestream smoke is greater for that of cigarettes than for cigarillos. This is also supported from the calculated PM2.5 emission rate per gram of cigarette and cigarillo  burned. Cigarettes have a significantly higher emission rate than cigarillos. 

While the experiment conducted displays a small sample of exposure to sidestream smoke from tobacco products, such as cigarettes and cigarillos, the impact of these primary PM 2.5 sources are much farther reaching than this study conducted, but ultimately shows that tobacco products should be phased out of society.

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