General Question

nordgren's avatar

Why are cigarette filters yellow with a cork pattern?

Asked by nordgren (13points) May 9th, 2008

I have always wondered why most cigarette filters look like they do. They are yellow, with little patches of lighter yellow on them, and look kind of like cork. What is it supposed to look like? And why?

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32 Answers

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

Well I wouldn’t know why they are yellow, but if there was a reason with no effect then I would say that they just turn out that color. The reason they look like cork is because its a filter, because there are air pockets, that makes you able to take a breath through the filter and the tobacco while some of the smoke is captured on the walls of the pockets.

MrKnowItAll's avatar

It’s so they will match your teeth, smoker.

XCNuse's avatar

isn’t it meant to filter out some of the tar so you don’t get so much into your lungs? (or.. as much?)

nordgren's avatar

I’m talking about the printed pattern, that looks like this:
Cigarette image

It’s manufactured, so I’m thinking there must be some sense to it. But I can’t find any info on why the filters have that pattern on them.

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

Well I can’t find anything on it but I guess it was to distinguish the filter side from the open end so you wouldn’t ruin you cigarette at night. I’m pretty sure that’s wrong but who knows? I might be right.

Randy's avatar

@xxporkxsodaxx- If its dark, I would think you’d have a hard time seeing the pattern. You’d have to just feel for the open end. On that note, the color and pattern doesn’t really make a difference. Also, if you put it in your mouth wrong, the only negative points would be tobacco in your mouth and you trying to light your filter on fire. It won’t actually light in the short amount of time you hold the fire there, by the way.

As for the question, my guess is that the tobacco companys that give cigarette butts that pattern do so only for decoration. The are many brands that no longer use the “cork” look.

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

@randy, I was kind of meaning more of like moonlight not so much of pitch black unforgiving darkness.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Ive wondered this myself too. Why do they all have the same design? mine are all black ^_^

I recently had a cigarette that had 2 filters in it instead of one and in between it the two on the inside it had all these tiny brownish pebble looking things. What the hell was that? Carbon filter?

Randy's avatar

@xxporkxsodaxx- My mistake. =)

@uber- Cloves? Nice!!! You wouldn’t happen to have a picture or a brand name of this double filtered monstrosaty would you? I’m curious about it.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Nat Sherman’s A touch of clove cigarettes . I originaly bought them because i thought they were cloves but turns out they are pretty much just straight tobacco(cant smoke normal cigs after i started with cloves.) I had a hard time giving them away they tasted so bad. They did however have a really cool box

NeroCorvo's avatar

Here is my guess:

The filter end absorbs tar and nicotine. As it does this it stains it yellow- brown.
I think the patterned end is asthetic and conceals the paper discoloration as the cigarette is smoked.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@olddog no matter what color the paper is it will still conceal it. Even white, so why do they all do the same pattern?

NeroCorvo's avatar

@uberbatman- glad you gave me the answer. I was going to seek out an all- white cigarette to test my theory.

Great question! There has to be a story behind the pattern.

Randy's avatar

Marlboros have white filters. I still say its just for decoration.

Interestingly enough, the only cigarette I can think of that still uses the yellow cork pattern is Camels. Anyone else think of any?

El_Cadejo's avatar


Salems blacks have one cig with a green filter. People i know who smoke them call that one the lucky and save it for last.

which i realize this is all just marketing bullshit but the same pattern in the start is what interests me.

Randy's avatar

Newports! Jeeze… Didn’t think of that one.

NeroCorvo's avatar

This may hint at the answer but will keep looking – I found this patent:

Title: Brown cigarette wrappers
Document Type and Number:
United States Patent 4146041

The present invention relates to brown cigarette paper having reduced gas phase constituents during pyrolysis wherein the paper which has been stained with humic acid or salts thereof is further treated by washing with water in an amount effective to reduce the amount of water-soluble alkali metal salts present in the paper.

Also found this and thought I would post it because it is interesting:

NeroCorvo's avatar

Finally an answer:

“This cigarette is to be smoked through high-density end and this high density tobacco portion is tipped with porous cork tipping paper of different colour for identification to enable the consumer to know that tipped portion of the cigarette is to be put in the mouth.”

Taken from:

boffin's avatar

So you’ll know which end to light….

NeroCorvo's avatar

Yes- because even before the advent of filters cigarettes were meant to be smoked through the more densely packed end. This end was marked with a decorative cork tipping paper.

scamp's avatar

@ uber I got some Nat Sherman’s clove cigarrettes when I went to the city. I got some mint ones too. Did you ever lick your lips after smoking one? They leave a sweet taste on your lips. I like that!

El_Cadejo's avatar

@scamp yea but djarums leave a more pronouced better flavor than them. Try the blacks if you get a chance. mmmmmmmmm cinnamon.

scamp's avatar

OOOh cinnamon sounds good! Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve tried djarums cloves before and liked them. SO thought I was smoking pot becuase of the smell, lol. I’ll give the blacks a try.

El_Cadejo's avatar

hehe i use them as my cover up after smoking cause they smell the same so i just blame it on the cigs ^_^

I havent tried them yet but they also have djarum black cappuccino and black tea. Both of which sound awesome.

b00lean's avatar

my tip – I believe that cork color/pattern helps cigarette not to be so visible when is thrown away on the ground – looks like a piece of wood.

asianmags's avatar

Apparently, when authorities first found out that smoking was a detriment to general wellbeing, the tobacco companies used to use cork filters as a method of catching tar and other impurities, the speckled filter on modern cigarettes is harking back to the golden age of smoking

skrjj's avatar

Marlboro was introduced in 1955 in a flip-top box with cork-tipped “selectrate” filter. Due to growing public awareness over reports linking smoking to lung disease, smokers began switching to filtered cigarettes designed to reduce the amount of “tar” and nicotine they inhaled.

sixteenarmsbill's avatar

I guess it’s to show you where you breathe in the smoke

studyfacts's avatar

The reason why the filter is orange is because they have a machine that smokes, 10 cigarettes at once ,and the capture all the residue ,or resin from the smoke in a thin sheet of cotton ,then the boil the cotton in some kind of liquid, I’m not shure what and it turns it orange from the residue ,then they have a roll of thin paper, and they pour that orange liquid on to the thin sheet of paper ,and thy cut it into strips, and wrap it atone the filter , so you can be getting more nickatene while sucking one the ciggarette : malboro factory .:.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
LSBishop's avatar

This is most likely a toss back to the tips that used to be placed on cigarettes before filters were invented in the 30s, and then popularized in the 50s. Previous to modern cellulose (or previously cotton) filters, companies placed cork tips on their cigarettes. The purpose of these “heads” was not to actually filter the cigarette, but mainly to separate the tobacco flakes from the person. They were largely marketed towards women – what woman wants to be seen on a date pulling tobacco flakes from her teeth? – but were eventually spread to other non-female targeted brands as well. When filters first started being used instead of cork, the companies wanted their cigarettes to look the same. Over time, some have dropped it while others have simply modified it. But that’s where the design style comes from.

Source: Manager at a tobacco shop

vanu's avatar

I firmly believe that the cork tip was invented to create an illusion. Hear me out fellow smokers. Examine your unsmoked cig. Now smoke it, and notice how your filter is the SAME color as the paper… They don’t want us to pay attention to how gross it looks, because then we might think twice about having another. Therefore, they make fancy looking tips to match the used filter color, thus making it less noticeable. BOOM!

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