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Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 60 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These cigarette ingredients include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT.
Cancer causing chemicals in tobacco smoke include:
Currently all tobacco products available that are smoked deliver substantial amounts of toxic chemicals to their users and those who breathe their smoke.
Nicotine is highly addictive. Smoke containing nicotine is inhaled into the lungs, and the nicotine reaches your brain in just six seconds.
While not as serious as heroin addiction, addiction to nicotine also poses very serious health risks in the long run.
Nicotine in small doses acts as a stimulant to the brain. In large doses, it's a depressant, inhibiting the flow of signals between nerve cells. In even larger doses, it's a lethal poison, affecting the heart, blood vessels, and hormones. Nicotine in the bloodstream acts to make the smoker feel calm.
As a cigarette is smoked, the amount of tar inhaled into the lungs increases, and the last puff contains more than twice as much tar as the first puff. Carbon monoxide makes it harder for red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Tar is a mixture of substances that together form a sticky mass in the lungs.
Most of the chemicals inhaled in cigarette smoke stay in the lungs. The more you inhale, the better it feelsand the greater the damage to your lungs. You can ask anyone working on bachelors degree in any medical field and they will be able to tell you what damage smoking does to the lungs.
Cigarette Maker Now Listing IngredientsFor the first time, an American tobacco company has begun listing long-secret ingredients contained in its cigarettes directly on the label. Yesterday, Liggett Group Inc. introduced cartons that the company plans to begin using that list the ingredients in its L&M cigarettes, including molasses, phenylacetic acid and the oil of the East Indian mint called patchouli. The move comes as the state of Massachusetts is trying to compel disclosure of all ingredients by all cigarette makers, an effort that other major tobacco companies are fighting.
Liggett, which broke with the industry by signing the first settlements ever with states and private attorneys suing it, supports the Massachusetts effort as well. "Liggett believes that its adult consumers have a right to full disclosure," Liggett head Bennett S. LeBow said in a statement. Along with blended tobacco and water, the 26-item L&M list includes high fructose corn syrup, sugar, natural and artificial licorice flavor, menthol, artificial milk chocolate and natural chocolate flavor, valerian root extract, molasses and vanilla extracts, and cedarwood oil. Less familiar additives include glycerol, propylene glycol, isovaleric acid, hexanoic acid and 3-methylpentanoic acid.
Some 600 ingredients are used in American cigarettes, but a Liggett spokesman said the L&M statement was a "quite exhaustive list" of every ingredient used in that brand.
Ingredients in tobacco products have never been proved harmful -- especially when compared with the many toxins found in tobacco smoke itself. But activists have long pushed for disclosure of the ingredients, in part because consumers tend to be more wary of risks imposed upon them by others than of the risks they knowingly choose.
The companies have provided lists of ingredients to the federal Department of Health and Human Services for more than a decade, but government officials are legally not allowed to release the information. The industry also presented a composite list of 599 additives to congressional investigators in 1994, but that was never officially made public.
David Remes, an attorney who represents the four other tobacco companies challenging the state of Massachusetts, said the case comes down to the industry's right to protect its trade secrets.
Kleinman, M.D., and Deborah Messina-Kleinman, M.P.H.
Filters Don't Work
The solution to the bitter-tasting cigarette was easy -- have some chemists add taste-improving chemicals to the tobacco. Unfortunately, some of these chemicals also cause cancer.
But not all of the chemicals in your cigarettes are there for taste enhancement. For example, a chemical very similar to rocket fuel helps keep the tip of the cigarette burning at an extremely hot temperature. This allows the nicotine in tobacco to turn into a vapor so your lungs can absorb it more easily.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner?
The complete list of chemicals added to your cigarettes is too long to list here. Here are some examples that will surprise you:
If you are angry that so many things have been added to the cigarettes you enjoy so much, you should be. Many of these chemicals were added to make you better able to tolerate toxic amounts of cigarette smoke. They were added without regard to your health and with the intent to keep you addicted. As the tobacco industry saying goes, "An addicted customer is a customer for life, no matter how short that life is."
Make sure that you have the last laugh. Regardless of the countless chemicals in your cigarettes, quitting is always your option.
Perhaps this list of ingredients that are found in cigarettes is enough to make you want to quit smoking for good!
There are more than 4,000 ingredients in a cigarette other than tobacco. Common additives include yeast, wine, caffeine, beeswax and chocolate. Here are some other ingredients:
Ammonia: Household cleaner
What's in a
Probing into what makes a cigarette so irresistible, we find that much of the recent research corroborates earlier claims: It is for the nicotine in tobacco that the smoker smokes, the chewer chews, and the dipper dips. Hence, nicotine is in a cigarette.
In contrast to other drugs, nicotine delivery from tobacco carries an ominous burden of chemical poisons and cancer-producing substances that boggle the mind. Many toxic agents are in a cigarette. However, additional toxicants are manufactured during the smoking process by the chemical reactions occurring in the glowing tip of the cigarette. The number is staggering: more than 4,000 hazardous compounds are present in the smoke that smokers draw into their lungs and which escapes into the environment between puffs.
The burning of tobacco generates more than 150 billion tar particles per cubic inch, constituting the visible portion of cigarette smoke. According to chemists at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, cigarette smoke is 10,000 times more concentrated than the automobile pollution at rush hour on a freeway. The lungs of smokers, puffing a daily ration of 20 to 60 low to high tar cigarettes, collect an annual deposit of one-quarter to one and one-half pounds of the gooey black material, amounting to a total of 15 to 90 million pounds of carcinogen-packed tar for the aggregate of current American smokers. Hence, tar is in a cigarette.
But visible smoke contributes only 5-8% to the total output of a cigarette. The remaining bulk that cannot be seen makes up the so-called vapor or gas phase of cigarette "smoke." It contains, besides nitrogen and oxygen, a bewildering assortment of toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, acrolein, hydrogen cyanide, and nitrogen oxides, to name just a few. Smokers efficiently extract almost 90% of the particulate as well as gaseous constituents (about 50% in the case of carbon monoxide) from the mainstream smoke of the 600 billion cigarettes consumed annually in the U.S. In addition, 2.25 million metric tons of sidestream smoke chemicals pollute the enclosed air spaces of homes, offices, conference rooms, bars, restaurants, and automobiles in this country. Hence, pollution is in a cigarette.
The witch's brew of poisons invades the organs and tissues of smokers and nonsmokers, adults and children, born as well as unborn, and causes cancer, emphysema, heart disease, fetal growth retardation and other problems during pregnancy. The harm inflicted by all other addictions combined pales in comparison. Smoking-related illness, for example, claims in a few days as many victims as cocaine does in a whole year. Hence, disease is in a cigarette.
The irony is that many of the poisons found in cigarette smoke are subject to strict regulation by federal laws which, on the other hand, specifically exempt tobacco products. "Acceptable Daily Intake," ADI, is the amount of a chemical an individual can be exposed to for an extended period without apparent detriment to health.
In addition, there is the chemical burden from sidestream smoke, afflicting smokers and non-smokers alike. Based on the reported concentrations in enclosed, cigarette smoke-polluted areas, the estimated intakes of nicotine, acrolein, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde peak at 200, 130, 75, 7, and 3 times the ADI, respectively. The high exposure to acrolein is especially unsettling. This compound is not only a potent respiratory irritant, but qualifies, according to current studies, as a carcinogen.
Regulatory policy aims at restricting exposure to carcinogens to a level where the lifetime risk of cancer would not exceed 1 in 100,000 to 1,000,000. Due to a limited database, approximate upper lifetime risk values could be calculated for only 7 representative cigarette smoke carcinogens. The risk values were extraordinarily high, ranging from 1 in 6,000 to 1 in 16. Because of the awesome amount of carcinogens found in cigarette smoke and the fact that carcinogens combine their individual actions in an additive or even multiplicative fashion, it is not surprising that the actual risk for lung cancer is as high as one in ten. Hence, cancer is in a cigarette.
Among the worst offenders are the nitrosamines. Strictly regulated by federal agencies, their concentrations in beer, bacon, and baby bottle nipples must not exceed 5 to 10 parts per billion. A typical person ingests about one microgram a day, while the smokers' intake tops this by 17 times for each pack of cigarette smoked. In 1976, a rocket fuel manufacturer in the Baltimore area was emitting dimethylnitrosamine into the surrounding air, exposing the local inhabitants to an estimated 14 micrograms of the carcinogen per day. The plant was promptly shut down. However eagerly the government tries to protect us from outdoor pollution and the carcinogenic risk of consumer products, it blatantly suspends control if the offending chemical is in, or comes from, a cigarette. Hence, hypocrisy is in a cigarette.
But there is still more in a cigarette than addiction, poison, pollution, disease, and hypocrisy. A half century of aggressive promotion and sophisticated advertising that featured alluring role models from theater, film and sport, has invested the cigarette with an enticing imagery.
K. H. Ginzel, M.D., is Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arkansas. His work is concentrated in the area of nicotine and its effects.
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Our website is not designed to, and does not provide medical advice. All content, including text, graphics, images and information available on or through QuitSmokingSupport.com is for general informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website. Never rely on information on QuitSmokingSupport.com in place of seeking professional medical advice.
Updated December 2018