Tobacco Products

Chemicals in Cigarettes: From Plant to Product to Puff

Chemical Symbols Overlay on a Field of Tobacco

You probably know that cigarettes can kill you—in fact, smoking kills half of those who don't quit1—but do you really have the full story? Do you know how many harmful chemicals are in cigarettes or how they get into the product?

FDA created these videos and interactive tools to lay the foundation for an important public health goal: we aim to publish a list of the levels of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals in tobacco, in a way that is easy for the public to understand. As an important step toward that goal, we invite you to explore the chemicals in tobacco in three stages of cigarettes, from plant to product to puff, in the videos below.

Chemicals in Every Tobacco Plant

Chemicals in Every Tobacco Plant

It is a fact that cigarettes contain dangerous chemicals.2 But how do these chemicals get into cigarettes? Are most of the harmful chemicals added during the manufacturing process?

Fact: Some of the toxic chemicals in tobacco are present in the plant itself.3 Watch the tobacco growth video to uncover more.

 

Chemicals in Every Cigarette

Chemicals in Every Cigarette

Ok, so harmful chemicals are in the tobacco plant. What happens during manufacturing? Is that when more dangerous chemicals are added?

Fact: Not all of the harmful chemicals created during cigarette manufacturing are man-made. Some of the carcinogens occur naturally as tobacco is cured.3 Watch the video about cigarette manufacturing.

 

Chemicals in Every Puff of Cigarette Smoke

Chemicals in Every Puff of Cigarette Smoke

How many harmful and potentially harmful chemicals are in a cigarette? Is there more than nicotine and tar?

Fact: There are more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke.2 More than 70 of those chemicals are linked to cancer.4,5,6,7 Watch the video on cigarette smoke to learn more about what happens when you light up.

 

Think You Know All the Chemicals Found in Tobacco Products?

Here are some of the 93 known harmful and potentially harmful chemicals in cigarettes:

NicotineCadmiumLeadAcroleinAcetaldehydeBenzeneAmmoniaCarbon MonxideTobaccoSpecific_NitrosaminesButadiene

 

Downloads

Download and share with people in your life these images about the health effects of dangerous chemicals in cigarettes.

 

Some of the toxic chemicals in cigarettes are present in the tobacco plant itself. Learn more about the chemicals in a cigarette, from plant to product to puff.
 
There are harmful chemicals in every stage of the process of making and smoking a cigarette from plant to product to puff.
 
Chemicals in Cigarettes: From Plant to Product to Puff Not Natural Animated GIF
Smoking can cause buildup of a dangerous substance called plaque inside your arteries, which can lead to heart attack and sudden death.
 
Smoking can block blood flow to the brain and can lead to stroke, which can cause brain damage and death.
 
Smoking can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD robs the lungs of air and can lead to long-term disability and death
 


  1. Doll R, Peto R, Wheatley K, Gray R, Sutherland I. Mortality in relation to smoking: 40 years observations on male British doctors. British Medical Journal 1994; 309:901-911.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You (Consumer Booklet). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2010.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2010.
  4. Hecht SS. Research opportunities related to establishing standards for tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2012; 14(1):18-28.
  5. Hoffmann D, Hoffmann I, El Bayoumy K. The less harmful cigarette: a controversial issue. A tribute to Ernst L. Wynder. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 2001; 14:767-790.
  6. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Some non-heterocyclic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and some related exposures. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Vol. 92. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010.
  7. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Tobacco smoke and involuntary smoking. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Vol. 83. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2004.

 

Page Last Updated: 03/17/2017
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