Anatomy of a cigarette – Ingredients list show the real danger in smoking is not tobacco

Anatomy of a cigarette – Ingredients list show the real danger in smoking is not tobacco

Everyday, More than 3,200 Americans under 18 years old smoke their first cigarette. Tragically, most new smokers are ignorant of the dangers of this habit – including heart diseases, lung infection, diabetes, stroke, and ultimately death.

Reasons to Quit smoking

  1.  Smoking is the most preventable cause of death today
  2. Up to 80% of lung diseases are associated with smoking
  3. Up to 55% of children under 15 are passive smokers
  4. one third of deaths due to heart disease are due to smoking and second hand smoke
  5. Statistically, smokers die on average 10 years earlier than non-smokers

We give a rundown of ingredients used in cigarettes to educates the public as improper education or ignorance seems to be the major reason cigarette smoking takes up to 500,000 lives every year.

Cigarettes contain up to 600 ingredients on top of more than 7,000 chemicals released by tobacco smoke.

“One of the issues with cigarettes is that they have hundreds of added ingredients, not just the raw natural tobacco leaves,” says Dr Luz Claudio. Health scientist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “What complicates this significantly is the different chemicals that react and are produced when a stick is burnt”. Even though tobacco companies like R.J Reynolds keep saying that the ingredients found in cigarettes are not harmful as they are the ones found in foods and beverages approved by the FDA, the truth is that you would never put them in your mouth otherwise.

  1. Arsenic:


Arsenic is a naturally occuring substance which can be found in rice and some other grains. It can also be man-made for use in rat poison and wood preservatives.

A simple search on the web will show that Long-term exposure to low doses of arsenic may change the way cells communicate, and reduce their ability to function, according to researchers at Dartmouth University. It could play a role in the development of diabetes, cancer, vascular disease and lung disease.

The Food and Drug Administration says that long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin cancer, bladder cancer and lung cancer, as well as heart disease.

Arsenic does not build up in the body, according to Dartmouth. It can leave the system in a day or two, once consumption stops.

 2. Carbon monoxide:

This is yet another ingredient found in a cigarette. It is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced from incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. This chemical can be found in car exhaust fumes, gas stoves and insecticides. Basically the way it works is once the substance is inhaled, it binds to oxygen carrying red blood cells diminishing its oxygen capacity. They are very quick to bond with red blood cells but very slow to break and exit the body taking as much as a day to be exhaled through the lungs.

A daily smoker may hardly feel the effect  unless large number of cigarettes are smoked in quick succession in a enclosed space. A racing heart, light headedness or nausea will usually get their attention to slow down on the smoking.

A pack a day smoker can be saturated with carbon monoxide as high as 3%-6%.

2 packs a day smoker averages between 6%-10% and 3 packs, as high as 20%

A non smoker carbon monoxide level should not get as high as 1% or they may start to feel their heart rate increase and a reduced tolerance for high intensity activity.

3. Cadmium:

A bluish-white chemical substance similar to Zinc is a very toxic gas usually found in batteries and industrial workplaces. According to WHO International:

Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.

4. hexamine: often found in barbecue lighters and plastic.   Hexamine also has medical uses that are typically used to treat urinary tract infections by doctors and medical professionals.

5. Stearic Acid: Stearic Acid is a waxy white substance that is a fatty acid. It is ­found in animal and vegetable fats, and is a component that is used to make candles, plastics, oil pastels, and cosmetics.

6. Ammonia – Ammonia is a common chemical you will find the toilet cleaners and industrial-strength cleaners. It is very potent, pungent and is used to kill bacteria.

 Cigarette smoke is to blame for nearly 30% of all cancer-related deaths in the U.S.  This includes 87% of lung cancer deaths among men and 70% among women.


In addition, cigarette smoke is linked to various lung diseases, such as bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic airway obstruction. Currently, there are over 16 million Americans suffering from a smoking-related disease. While an estimate, 5.4 million under the age of 18 will die due to smoking-related illness unless adequate prevention measures are put in place. 


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