Fact Check

Did Cigarettes Ever Contain Asbestos Filters?

Kent cigarettes, the company claimed in the 1950s, were "the one cigarette that can show you proof of greater health protection."

Published Jan 18, 2023

A brand of cigarettes in the 1950s, Kent cigarettes, used extremely toxic asbestos in their filters.

A photograph of a cigarette containing blue asbestos in its filter is commonly shared on various social media channels, including Reddit:

These photographs typically identify the item pictured as a Kent cigarette with a "micronite filter." Micronite filters, which use crocidolite asbestos, were exclusively used in Kent cigarettes from 1952 to 1956. Crocidolite is a blue asbestos matching the viral photographs shared on social media. Somewhat perversely, these asbestos filters were advertised as a health and safety feature in the 1950s: 

(The Des Moines Register Sept. 27 1953)

Crocidolite, we now know, is one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos to which a human can be exposed, in part because it is easy to inhale. As described by the Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center:

Crocidolite is made up of extremely fine sharp fibers that are particularly easy to inhale. Studies show that crocidolite is so hazardous, it may be responsible for more illnesses and deaths than any other type of asbestos.

A 1995 study attempted to quantify the amount of exposure one would experience by smoking a Kent cigarette:

One filter contained approximately 10 mg of crocidolite. Crocidolite structures were found in the mainstream smoke from the first two puffs of each cigarette smoked. At the observed rates of asbestos release, a person smoking a pack of these cigarettes each day would take in more than 131 million crocidolite structures longer than 5 microns in 1 year. 

Kents were marketed at the time by the Lorillard Tobacco Company, which was acquired by the owner of Camel and Newport cigarettes — Reynolds American Inc. — in 2014. Since then, those new owners have paid out $42.3 million in settlements to resolve 165 asbestos filter cases.

Because the photograph shows — and accurately describes — a real product from the 1950s, the claim is "True."



"Asbestos Cigarette Filters: History of Kent Micronite & Lawsuits." Mesothelioma Center - Vital Services for Cancer Patients & Families, https://www.asbestos.com/products/cigarette-filters/. Accessed 12 Jan. 2023.

Longo, W. E., et al. "Crocidolite Asbestos Fibers in Smoke from Original Kent Cigarettes." Cancer Research, vol. 55, no. 11, June 1995, pp. 2232–35.

https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma/asbestos-cancer/types-of-asbestos. Accessed 12 Jan. 2023.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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