What’s in a cigarette?

There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 4,000 chemicals. At least 50 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.

Many of these chemicals are also found in consumer products, but these products have warning labels. While the public is warned about the danger of the poisons in these products, there is no such warning for the toxins in tobacco smoke.

Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found:

  • Acetone – found in nail polish remover
  • Acetic Acid –  an ingredient in hair dye
  • Ammonia – a common household cleaner
  • Arsenic – used in rat poison
  • Benzene – found in rubber cement
  • Butane – used in lighter fluid
  • Cadmium – active component in battery acid
  • Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
  • Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
  • Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
  • Lead – used in batteries
  • Napthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
  • Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
  • Nicotine – used as insecticide
  • Tar – material for paving roads
  • Toluene – used to manufacture paint

To give you an idea of the harm these substances can do, picture the thick gooey-ness of tar. The average smoker inhales about one cup of tar a year. Because a smoker’s lungs often don’t work as well as they should, the tar may stick and stay in there for a long time. Tar also hurts the “cilia” in a person’s airway, which are tiny hairs that protect the lungs by sweeping out mucus and germs. Tar, like many of the other chemicals in cigarettes, can cause diseases related to how we breathe, like emphysema and bronchitis.