News

New book on pig products reveals problems for Muslim, Jewish and vegetarian smokers


31 March 2010

A new book exploring the many and varied uses of pigs after slaughter has revealed that haemoglobin from pigs' blood is used in the production of cigarette filters.

The book, Pig 05049 by Dutch author Christien Meindertsma, reveals 185 different uses to which a dead pig can be put - from the manufacture of sweets and shampoo, to bread, body lotion, beer and bullets.

But the revelation that pig haemoglobin is used in cigarette filters to create an "artificial lung" that supposedly lessens harmful chemicals reaching the smoker, is set to re-open the issue about the tobacco industry's failure to reveal what additives and ingredients are used in cigarettes.

Professor Simon Chapman from the School of Public Health said Australian smokers would have no way of finding out whether locally manufactured or imported cigarette filters contained material sourced from pig haemoglobin.

"Many devout Muslim and Jewish smokers and some vegetarians would be horrified to think they were putting a filter in their mouth which contained a pig product," Professor Chapman said.

The tobacco industry can put anything legal in its products with no obligation to inform either the government or consumers. It voluntarily declares certain ingredients on unpublicised websites but each brand has a catch-all qualifying statement saying: "Processing aids and preservatives that are not significantly present in, and do not functionally affect, the finished product are grouped as 'processing aids'". The details of the materials in these "processing aids" are well-kept trade secrets.

Smokers who do not want to use pig products are entitled to be told whether Australian cigarettes have pig products included in these "processing aids", Professor Chapman said.

"The tobacco industry has a decades-long history of keeping its customers ignorant about what it is they are buying. There is not just tobacco in a cigarette."


Media inquiries: Sarah Stock, sarah.stock@sydney.edu.au, 0419 278 715.