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7 Dangerous Chemicals Found In Cigarettes

7 Dangerous Chemicals Found In Cigarettes

Table of Contents

HOW MANY CHEMICALS ARE IN CIGARETTES?

There are thousands of chemicals in cigarettes, over 50 of which are known to cause cancer. These include Benzene, Arsenic, Cadmium, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen Cyanide and Nitrogen Oxide. However, this doesn’t include the chemicals formed by burning tobacco, like tar and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is probably the most harmful chemical you take in when you smoke as it sticks to red blood cells, reducing their oxygen carrying capacity.

WHAT ACTUALLY GOES INTO MAKING CIGARETTES?

We all know that cigarettes are bad for us. But did you know what’s in the cigarette that is hurting you?
 
When asked, many smokers will say that cigarettes are just made up of tobacco wrapped up in paper. But it's much more than this. According to the Cancer Research UK and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cigarettes also contain over 5,000 chemicals (1).
 
Nicotine is of course in a cigarette, it's the main reason we smoke after all! But it never fails to surprise us what else is lurking in a cigarette.
 
In fact, over 50 of these ingredients are known carcinogens (chemicals which cause cancer) and another 400 are toxic to humans – shockingly, most of these are not widely publicised on a cigarette pack.
 
If you're concerned about the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes and how long they stay in your lungs, keep reading to find out more about the 7 dangerous chemicals that are contained in cigarettes.
 

1. BENZENE IN CIGARETTES

One of the many dangerous chemicals present in cigarettes is Benzene. This chemical is an industrial solvent that is refined from crude oil. It is commonly used in the production of pesticides and gasoline.
 
Benzene is carcinogenic (cancer causing) and consuming the chemical through smoking cigarettes has been connected to the development of leukaemia (cancer of the blood) (2).
 
Over half of human exposure to benzene is because of smoking or passive smoking. If you're exposed for extended periods of time to the chemical, you're also at risk of anaemia, uncontrollable bleeding and long-term damage to your body.
 

2. ARSENIC IN CIGARETTES

You probably recognise arsenic from various films and books as it was the poison of choice for villains everywhere. In fact, for hundreds of years it was considered the “king of poisons” as it was tasteless and odourless.
 
Nowadays arsenic is mainly found as a preservative in wood, and of course in cigarettes.
 
Arsenic is particularly problematic for regular and long-term smokers. Research shows that the chemical arsenic builds up in the body, literally poisoning every cigarette smoker.
 
Over time, it can cause greater damage to your heart and blood vessels (3). The breakdown of blood vessels affects the human body's ability to repair itself. This makes smokers more vulnerable to other diseases and health problems.
 
Arsenic then might not be the chemical that kills, but it will weaken the body’s defences and leave it vulnerable to all the other chemicals on this list.
 

3. CADMIUM IN CIGARETTES

Did you know that the same dangerous chemical used to make batteries is contained in cigarettes?
 
Cadmium is a toxic metal, and normally handled with care when it is being put into batteries. However research has shown high levels of cadmium in smokers, and even worse in those who passively breathe in the smoke.
 
We all knew that second-hand smoke was bad, but how many of us thought that we were forcing people to breathe toxic metals?
 
Cadmium especially affects the kidneys and arteries, is classified as a carcinogen and may be linked to pulmonary emphysema (4).
 
The human body is normally able to resist the harmful effect of this toxin. However, the quantity that is absorbed through tobacco smoke is too much for the body to handle.
 

4. FORMALDEHYDE IN CIGARETTES

Do you like the idea of consuming a chemical used in making paint and preserving dead bodies in a morgue? No, we didn't think so.
 
But when you smoke cigarettes that's exactly what you're doing. Formaldehyde is normally found in both paint, cigarettes and in funeral homes. It's used as a disinfectant to preserve dead bodies because it destroys microbes.
 
That is great for preserving bodies, but not so much for living lungs!
 
You don't even have to smoke cigarettes yourself to consume this, you just have to be in the vicinity of someone smoking. Like almost everything else on this list, formaldehyde has been linked to cancer (5), but it also has immediate effect as well.
 
At the very least formaldehyde can cause irritation to your eyes and excessive coughing, so if someone around you coughs whilst you're smoking you know what is causing it.
 

5. TAR IN CIGARETTES

Compared to many of the other dangerous chemicals on this list, tar is well known by smokers and non-smokers alike. Although it is not quite the same substance that paves our roads, it is still extremely dangerous. Even back when we thought cigarettes could be healthy for us, we knew that having tar in our lungs was a bad idea!
 
For years cigarettes have focused their marketing efforts as having lower levels of tar in their cigarettes, but the problem is that low tar still means that you are still inhaling the chemical into your lungs.
 
It is what stains your fingers and teeth with that horrible yellow colour, as it is a sticky substance it will cling to anything it touches. It does the same to your lungs, clinging to the lung cells (the cilla), clogging them up and slowly killing them. Once the lung cell is dead the tar moves deeper into the lung. Over time tar seeps into the very core of the lungs.
 
To make it simple, low-tar cigarettes are still dangerous to your health. Evidence indicates that more tar is likely to increase damage to DNA (6), so even though there is less tar, it will still affect you. Research shows that even if you go for a low tar cigarette, the risk is exactly the same.
 

6. HYDROGEN CYANIDE IN CIGARETTES

Have you ever heard of hydrogen cyanide? Hydrogen cyanide is one of the most dangerous chemicals in cigarettes (7).
 
You were probably tipped off by the word cyanide, as this is yet another chemical on this list that has been used to poison people over the years.
 
Unlike the others though, it is a by-product rather than a main ingredient, as it produced by burning some of the 599 additives cigarettes have in them.
 
It's so powerful that even brief exposure to the chemical can cause nausea and in some extreme cases vomiting. Do you remember when you first started smoking and you felt sick afterwards? A large part of that was the cyanide.
 
While the chemical doesn't directly cause cancer, it has been linked to harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels.
 
But even more significantly, the chemical damages structures called cilia in the lungs that are there to help remove toxins from your airways.
 
Hydrogen cyanide not only poisons you, but like arsenic it destroys your body’s defences against other toxins.
 
This leaves you much more vulnerable to health risks and problems with the lungs.
 

7. NITROGEN OXIDE IN CIGARETTES

Lastly, when you smoke cigarettes you consume the same chemical that is released through the exhaust of a car.
 
But that isn’t the reason you should be worried by nitrogen oxide, you should be worried as it is one the main chemicals (other than the nicotine) that gets you addicted to cigarettes.
 
When you breathe in nitrogen oxide it has effects on the body that literally make cigarettes more addictive.
 
First it forces the lungs to expand larger than normal, so you can take in more smoke (and tar).
 
Next the nitrogen oxide damages the tissue and causes inflammation of the lungs (8). Because of this the rest of the chemicals in the cigarette are absorbed faster by the lungs so you get that nicotine hit faster and harder then you normally would.
 
This process speeds up addiction, so you get hooked faster but also damages the smoker's ability to breathe when they're not smoking.

7 DANGEROUS CHEMICALS FOUND IN CIGARETTES - CONCLUSION

Now that you know some of the chemicals you find in a cigarette, you might be relieved to find out that SMOKO contains 4 simple ingredients – Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerine (used in candy, chewing gum, soft drinks, cake mixes and ice cream), Food Flavourings (found in everything we eat every day) and Nicotine (the biggest reason why we smoke).
 
According to a recent study by Public Health England, “electronic cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes” - another study found that smokers experience less coughing and phlegm when quitting with E-Cigarettes!
 
So, if you are still smoking and want to make the switch to a healthier alternative, why not try a SMOKO VAPE POD Starter kit today?
 

REFERENCES

(1) What's in a cigarette explained
(2) The contribution of benzene to smoking-induced leukemia
(3) Arsenic in Tobacco 
(4) Cadmium in tobacco smokers: a neglected link to lung disease?
(5) Formaldehyde: general information
(6) The effect of different tobacco tar levels on DNA damage in cigarette smoking subjects
(7) Toxins in Tobacco Smoke
(8) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry - Nitrogen Oxides

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 Written by Mike Cameron
Mike Cameron is a former smoker of 15 years (2 packs a day) until he successfully quit using a cigalike.  Mike is the Co-Founder and CEO of SMOKO E-Cigarettes and over the last 10 years, SMOKO has prevented 600M+ cigarettes from being smoked, helped their customers save £320M+ of their hard-earned money from going up in smoke and helped 10,000’s of adult smokers in 25+ countries to live smoke-free.
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SMOKING IS THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE THINGS FOR OUR HEALTH

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Over 80,000 people a year die prematurely in the UK due to smoking-related diseases.

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VAPING IS UP TO 80% CHEAPER THAN SMOKING

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