Levulinic Acid

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

Levulinic acid is an organic acid added to cigarettes. Levulinic acid (also known as 4-oxopentanoic acid) results from the breakdown of starch, cane sugar and other cellulosic materials. It occurs in beer, bread, lettuce, hydrolyzed soy protein,and roasted coffee. Levulinic acid is also one of the primary aromatic constituents responsible for the odor of smoke from burley tobacco.

Documents from R.J. Reynolds show that, when added to tobacco, levulinic acid reduces the harshness of smoke, and within a certain quantity range, enhances the binding of nicotine to nicotinic receptors in the rat brain.[1]

  1. RDM89 267. Enhancement of Nicotine Binding to Nicotinic Receptors by Nicotine Levulinate and Levulinic Acid, September 25, 1989, Patrick M. Lipiello, R.J. Reynolds Biochemical/Biobehavioral Research & Development Department

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