Deadly Chemicals: Tar and Ammonia in Cigarette Smoke

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

Cigarette smoke contains a cocktail of deadly chemicals. In fact, it’s more than what you can actually count. As manufacturers try to develop new ways to make cigarette smoking more pleasurable and flavorful, more and more chemicals are being added –making it more dangerous to smoke. But before getting into details, let’s get to know two of the most known chemicals found in cigarette smoke and how they affect your body.


TobaccoFirst in the list is “tar”. The brown substance you see in the end of the cigarette filter is tar. It is a sticky brown substance left behind by cigarette smoke. Tar content in cigarette varies depending on their classification. Cigarettes are classified in 3 classes – the low tar cigarettes which contains 7mg or less of tar, the medium tar with 15mg to 17mg of tar per stick, and the high tar cigarettes which contains at least 22mg of tar.

Before, cigarettes do not have filters, however, with the increasing reports associating tar to the increased risk of cancer, filters were introduced in the 1950s. But filters never worked and failed to do the job. Nicotine, tar, and other toxic chemicals still get through and continued to expose smokers to various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Tar stains your teeth, fingers, your walls, and to everything it touches. The yellowish-brown color in your walls are caused by tar. Actually, they are tar that sticks to your wall. And mind you, they are very hard to remove. What more if it reaches your lungs?

Tar tends to increase in your every puff. This means, your last puff can contain twice the tar on your first puff, as higher amounts of tar are trapped towards the end of the cigarette stick. Tar kills the cilia in your lungs leaving it vulnerable to foreign substances which can cause great harm to your lungs and to your overall health. Tar increases your risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

Now, let’s look into “ammonia”. Ammonia is a natural substance, a bi-product of human activity. It is a colorless, toxic substance highly distinguishable with its sharp odor. This toxic chemical is commonly used in fertilizers and cleaning products.

Cigarette manufacturers use ammonia to enhance or boosts the effect of nicotine, making it more addictive. They discovered that adding ammonia in the equation enhances the effects of nicotine in the body, this process is called “freebasing”. It is similar to the freebasing of cocaine.



With ammonia in the equation, cigarettes become more appealing to your senses. It becomes more pleasurable and flavorful to smoke. So when you smoke, you get a kick from nicotine as it is easily absorbed by your body. You get easily hooked to smoking, which means new avid consumer for cigarette companies.

There are more chemicals found in tobacco smoke than just tar and ammonia. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals, with more than 250 toxic chemicals, 70 of which are known carcinogens or cancer causing compounds. Quitting smoking now lessens your risk of cancers, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and other disorders associated with smoking. Talk to your doctor now to know your options.


Previous post:

Next post:

Click here to subscribe to my mailing list