|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.
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
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.
What's In Cigarette Smoke?
Cigarette smoke contains
over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400
other toxins. These include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde,
ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT.
Nicotine is highly addictive. Smoke containing nicotine is
inhaled into the lungs, and the nicotine reaches your brain in just six seconds.
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
Cigarette Maker Now Lists
For 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
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.
drkoop.com Health Columnists
Cigarette flavors have gone through many changes since
cigarettes were first made. Initially, cigarettes were unfiltered, allowing the full
"flavor" of the tar to come through. As the public became concerned about the
health effects of smoking, filters were added. While this helped alleviate the public's
fears, the result was a cigarette that tasted too bitter.
Filters Don't Work
Filters do not remove enough tar to make cigarettes less dangerous. They are just a
marketing ploy to trick you into thinking you are smoking a safer cigarette.
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?
Most people prefer to use ammonia for things such as cleaning windows and toilet bowls.
You may be surprised to learn that the tobacco industry has found some additional uses for
this household product. By adding ammonia to your cigarettes, nicotine in its vapor form
can be absorbed through your lungs more quickly. This, in turn, means your brain can get a
higher dose of nicotine with each puff.
The complete list of chemicals added to
your cigarettes is too long to list here. Here are some examples that will surprise you:
- Fungicides and pesticides -- Cause many types of cancers and
- Cadmium -- Linked to lung and prostate cancer.
- Benzene -- Linked to leukemia.
- Formaldehyde -- Linked to lung cancer.
- Nickel -- Causes increased susceptibility to lung
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
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
Angelica root extract: Known to cause cancer in animals
Arsenic: Used in rat poisons
Benzene: Used in making dyes, synthetic rubber
Butane: Gas; used in lighter fluid
Carbon monoxide: Poisonous gas
Cadmium: Used in batteries
Cyanide: Deadly poison
DDT: A banned insecticide
Ethyl Furoate: Causes liver damage in animals
Lead: Poisonous in high doses
Formaldehiyde: Used to preserve dead specimens
Megastigmatrienone: Chemical naturally found in grapefruit juice
Maltitol: Sweetener for diabetics
Napthalene: Ingredient in mothballs
Methyl isocyanate: Its accidental release killed 2000 people in Bhopal, India in 1984
Polonium: Cancer-causing radioactive element
What's in a
by K. H. Ginzel, M.D.
who still don't know let me emphatically state that cigarette smoking is a true
addiction! To grasp this well-documented fact, one really doesn't have to study all the
supporting scientific evidence. One simply needs to consider that no other drug is
self-administered with the persistence, regularity and frequency of a cigarette. At an
average rate of ten puffs per cigarette, a one to three pack-a-day smoker inhales 70,000
to 200,000 individual doses of mainstream smoke during a single year. Ever since its large
scale industrial production early in this century, the popularity of the modern cigarette
has been spreading like wildfire. Here is the first, and perhaps the most significant
answer to the title question: Addiction is in a cigarette.
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
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
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.
|Imagery which captivates and
seduces a growing youngster. The youngster, indispensable for being recruited into the
future army of smokers, does not start to smoke cigarettes for the nicotine, but for the
false promises they hold. Hence, deceit is in a cigarette. In summary, no drug ever
ingested by humans can rival the long-term debilitating effects of tobacco; the carnage
perpetuated by its purveyors; the merciless irreversibility of destiny once the victim
contracts lung cancer or emphysema; the militant denial on the part of those who, with the
support of stockholders and the sanction of governments, legally push their lethal
merchandise across borders and continents killing every year two and one-half to three
million people worldwide. All things added together: death is in a cigarette.
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.