Will FDA Study on Cigarette Ingredients Prove St. Louis Alderman's Theory? Rat Eyes and Opossum Guts?


As the Associated Press reports today, the Food and Drug Administration wants to "lift the smokescreen" surrounding the chemicals and ingredients that go into cigarettes and other tobacco products.

For the first time ever the FDA is demanding that tobacco companies provide the agency their formulas. Deadline for the list of ingredients is June.

The tobacco industry has long conceded that it adds natural flavorings -- menthol, cocoa, coffee, sugar -- to cigarettes to improve taste and chemicals like diammonium phosphate and ammonium hydroxide to improve the burn rate.

But what about other components? You know, like the ones St. Louis Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. (Ward 3) has repeatedly warned his fellow legislators about? Bosley's most recent cautionary tale came during an October meeting when he explained to the board how tobacco is stored in barns that attract all types of vermin including "opossums, rats, waterbugs and cockroaches."

"Then they come up and scoop up all that tobacco and grind it up with the insects and animals in there and then they spray it with formaldehyde," said Bosley. "When you smoke and you hear something pop and crackle in the cigarette, that's rat's eyeballs burning up!"

Mmm! Rat eyeballs!

So, is Bosley right or wrong? Guess we'll know come June.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.