Ever wondered exactly what chemicals are contained in cigarettes? Here are a small selection of the chemicals contained in cigarettes.
Arsenic – a common rat poison, and the murder weapon of choice for estranged lovers.
Formaldehyde – used to preserve dead bodies. Causes cancer as well as to unpleasant ailments such as respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal problems.
Ammonia – Cigarette companies find the necessary for flavouring, and it also aids the freeing of nicotine from tobacco. You can also find it in toilet cleaning and dry cleaning fluids.
Acetone – also used as a nail varnish remover.
Hydrogen Cyanide – an extremely poisonous substance, which has been used in chemical warfare, by the Germans in the holocaust (when it was given the name Zyklon B) and by the Americans to kill criminals.
Carbon Monoxide – another highly toxic carcinogen, also found in car exhaust fumes.
Nicotine – consists of a tiny fraction of a cigarette – usually less than 3 %. It has historically been considered the reason for addiction to cigarettes, but a growing body of research suggests that nicotine is not the only factor!
Nicotine raises the blood pressure, and releases fat and cholesterol into the body. However, tobacco harm reduction scientists believe it is not the cause of smoking addiction.
Scary as the list above is, from a scientific view we should remember that it’s the dose that makes the poison. For example, formaldehyde sounds scary, but you can find tiny doses of formaldehyde in your breath.
That’s not to say smoking is not bad for you. The harm from smoking lies both in the carcinogens that are formed when tobacco smoke cools down and from the tar produced. Many of the chemicals produced when cigarettes are burned have still not been identified, and without knowing these (and their quantities) it’s hard to pin down exactly what makes smoking just so lethal.