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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Coumarin is a white substance with the odor of vanilla or new-mown hay. It is a powerful anti-coagulant used to prevent blood clotting. It is a toxin found in many plants. [1] Coumarin was used as an ingredient in cigarettes. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration says synonyms for coumarin include"Cumarin, 1,2-Benzopyrone-2H-1-benzopyran-2-one; Lactone; Coumaric Acid; Tonka Bean Camphor; Diesel Exhaust Component cis-o-coumaric acid lactone."[2]

" Project Coumarin - Top Secret" is a 1987 Philip Morris document that reveals PM's concern that public health officials in Europe might find out that coumarin was an additive in cigarettes. The writer of the document also says how public health investigations into this additive could be staved off. In the movie "The Insider," (about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey S. Wigand, the Brown & Williamson Vice President who blew the whistle on B&W to CBS news for their show "60 Minutes"), Dr. Wigand was concerned about an additive B&W put in their cigarettes called coumarin. In the movie, Wigand said coumarin (defined as a fragrant organic compound used in perfumes, flavorings and soaps, according to the dictionary) was a "lung-specific carcinogen." He had the same statement to the investigative television show, "60 Minutes" on February 4, 1996.[3][4]

In his testimony against the tobacco industry in the U.S. racketeering case against the tobacco industry, Dr. Wigand held that from a chemist’s point of view, coumarin is an “immediate precursor” to coumadin, which is a rat poison. Coumadin, he said, was found in tobacco, specifically in Sir Walter Raleigh Aromatic Pipe Tobacco. Dr. Wigand stated later in his testimony later that coumarin itself is dangerous enough, having been banned by the FDA for addition to human food in 1954.[5]


  1. Definitions of coumarin found on the Web Definitions of Coumarin found on the Web, accessed July 20, 2009
  2. United States Department of Labor, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Chemical Sampling Information - Coumarin, accessed July 20, 2009
  3. Jeffrey Wigand on 60 Minutes Transcript. Feburary 4, 1996
  4. P. Danielsen, Consultas Project Coumarin - Top Secret Letter. March 16, 1987. 4 pp Bates No. 2501046314/6317
  5. Tobacco On Trial Blog Archive Dr. Wigand and The Solicitous Solicitor, January 31, 2005, Blog. U.S. v. Philip Morris, et al. January 31, 2005