Study finds better cigarette toxin filters are vital amid pandemic

Unfiltered cigarettes have largely disappeared from the market, with filtered cigarettes comprising the majority of sales. A new study out of Israel has found that filters reduce the overall toxicity of cigarette smoke, but that better filters are necessary to help protect the biofilm found in smokers' lungs — particularly in light of the pandemic.

It's no secret that cigarettes cause lung damage and pave the way for a host of chronic health problems, including heart disease and cancer. When it comes to the overall toxicity of the various compounds found in cigarettes, however, research has been slim, which is where the new study comes in.

Researchers with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev evaluated a dozen different varieties of cigarettes that are available for purchase in Israel, including some that had filters and some that were unfiltered. The results found — as you'd likely expect — that filters on cigarettes slightly reduce their toxicity.

This is important because of the disruptive effect cigarette smoke has on the lungs, specifically on good bacteria and their ability to communicate. As a result of this disruption, the bacteria fail to produce the protective biofilm found in the lungs, leaving respiratory bacterial colonies — and the lungs — vulnerable.

The findings reveal one of the reasons that COVID-19 may be more severe in people who smoke, and underscore the importance of developing new filters that are better able to reduce cigarettes' toxicity, according to the university's department of biotechnology engineering head Professor Robert Marks.