Cigarettes and Cigarette Smoke: What Chemicals You’re Taking In

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Often, smokers would not think about the harmful compounds in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Instead, they try to think of how smoking help them cope with anxiety, stress, and emotional tumult. When in fact, smoking does exactly the opposite. Smoking subjects you to physical stress as toxic chemicals and carcinogens harm every inch of your body.

1425288723While experts are still trying to uncover everything about the dangers of smoking, several studies have shown that smoking is dangerous for both the smoker and the people around them.

Below are some of the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke, and how they harm your body.

Carcinogens

Carcinogens are compounds or substances that cause cancer. There are about 70 known carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.

TSNAs (Tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines)

This chemical is among the most potent carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.

Formaldehyde

This chemical is commonly used to in preserving cadavers. Formaldehyde causes eyes, nose, and throat irritation.

Benzene

Benzene is a common compound found in gasoline and pesticides. Cigarette smoke contains high level of this toxic chemical.

Vinyl Chloride

This man-made chemical is used in making plastics. Vinyl chloride is an important component of cigarette filters.

Toxic Metals

These compounds are potentially harmful when absorbed by the body. While some of these metals are essentially good for your health, but when taken in great quantity, can be poisonous.

Cadmium

This heavy metal is highly toxic and is commonly used in making batteries. Smokers have twice cadmium content in their bodies compared to non-smokers.

Arsenic


This poisonous compound used in rat poison finds its way into cigarettes through the pesticides used in tobacco farming.

Lead-210 and Polonium-210

These compounds are radioactive heavy metals present in cigarette smoke. These heavy metals expose smokers to higher health hazards.

Poisons

These compounds found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke cause severe physical harm and even death. Cigarette smoke contains around 250 poisonous gases.


Ammonia

This compound is commonly used in most fertilizers and cleaning products. Ammonia boosts the effects of nicotine in the body.

Hydrogen Cyanide

This chemical was used by the Nazi to murder prisoners during World War II. Cigarette smoke contains significant amount of this chemical.

Carbon Monoxide

Commonly found in car exhausts, this compound is deadly in large amounts. Cigarette smoke contains high levels of this gaseous chemical.

Nicotine

Nicotine is a poisonous compound used in most pesticides. It’s highly addictive and is blamed for the addictive properties of cigarettes.

Secondhand smoke is the term used to describe tobacco smoke that comes from mainstream smoke (exhaled by smokers), and sidestream smoke or the smoke directly coming from the burning tobacco.

Secondhand smoke is as dangerous as cigarette smoking. It contains at least 250 harmful chemicals, 50 of which are known carcinogens. Quitting smoking and staying away from secondhand smoke lessens your risks of cancer, heart attack, and other chronic diseases associated with smoking.


If you’re a smoker, quitting smoking now is your best way to improve your health condition. As early as 20 minutes your body starts to heal. In few months’ time, you’ll be able to undo most of the harmful effects smoking caused to your body. Talk to your doctor about your choices.


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