Tobacco Products

Chemicals in Every Puff of Cigarette Smoke

Unlit cigarettes already contain many toxic chemicals. But the last step that adds more dangerous chemicals to a cigarette is lighting it. Learn about the chemicals in cigarette smoke.
 

Chemicals in Every Puff of Cigarette Smoke
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To recap, some of the harmful chemicals, like cadmium and lead, are present in the tobacco plant.1 More chemicals are created or added during manufacturing.1,2,3 Lighting up creates even more chemicals.1,4,5 More than 70 chemicals in cigarette smoke have been linked to cancer,6,7,8,9 and smoking can also cause heart attack, stroke, lung disease, and gum disease, among other negative health effects.10

What are some of the chemicals created when lit?

Carbon Monxide Butadiene Acrolein Benzene

Quiz: How much do you really know about what's in cigarette smoke?

Answer these true/false questions to find out.
 

FALSE. More than 70 chemicals in cigarette smoke are linked to cancer.6,7,8,9. Watch the video to learn more.
FALSE. Some chemicals, such as nicotine and cadmium, start out right in the tobacco plant itself.1 More are created during curing and manufacturing.1,2,3 Even more chemicals are created when tobacco is burned. 1,4,5 Don’t be fooled: there is no such thing as safe tobacco.11 Watch the video to learn more.
FALSE. Cigarette smoking can cause cancer of the nose, mouth, voice box, trachea, esophagus, lungs, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, colon, cervix, bone marrow and blood.10

  1. 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.
  2. Rabinoff M, Caskey N, Rissling A, Park, C. Pharmacological and chemical effects of cigarette additives. American Journal of Public Health. 2007;97(11):1981-1991.
  3. Talhout R, Opperhuizen A, Amsterdam J. Sugars as tobacco ingredient: Effects on mainstream smoke composition. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2006;44(11):1789-1798.
  4. Cancer Research UK. What’s in a cigarette? http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/smoking-and-cancer/whats-in-a-cigarette. Updated 2016. Accessed January 4, 2017.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: 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; 2006.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The Health Consequences of Smoking - 50 Years of Progress. 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; 2014.
  11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease. The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease (Executive Summary). 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.

 

Page Last Updated: 06/27/2017
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