Asbestos in Cigarette Filters

Believe it or not, but at one point, asbestos was used in cigarette filters. This led to harmful exposure that people suffered throughout much of the 1900s. In particular, crocidolite was used, which is one of the most dangerous types of this product because the fibers are sharp and fine. This not only makes it easier to inhale, but it causes a lot more damage once it has entered the lungs.

Crocidolite has also occasionally been referred to as “blue asbestos.” These fibers are shorter and more brittle than other types.

Kent Micronite 

Known as one of the most dangerous cigarettes that were ever manufactured, these were ironically marketed as having a high-tech safety feature. This product was made compressing crocidolite within crepe paper. The fineness of this product is part of the reason that it was preferred, but that only served to make it more dangerous. Many people recognize this as the most dangerous of the six types of asbestos. 

Why Did They Put This in the Filters?

The harmful effects of smoking were not well known up until the 1950s, when people began to be more aware of the health risks associated with smoking. During this time, filtered cigarettes were marketed, making people believe they were less harmful than some of the others on the market. Filtered cigarettes achieved widespread popularity, but in reality, they were possibly even more dangerous than the originals. In 1952, companies began developing a filter to win back customers, and eventually, began using crocidolite. 

What Made These Filters Dangerous

Not only did these cigarettes endanger customers, but it also endangered the factory workers who made the cigarette filters. Many suffered from some of the worst exposures. Many times, they were required to cut open large burlap sacks of crocidolite as a part of their job. One study from 1989 found that of 33 workers who worked in one of these factories, 28 had died from exposure and contracting diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. 

A tidal wave of lawsuits came pouring in at the start of the 1980s. Lorillard, a cigarette company who used crocidolite filters, had to pay millions of dollars to compensate former employees and customers who had smoked their cigarettes. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done at this point.