What's in a Cigarette?

Cigarettes are the most widely used method of tobacco products delivery in the U.S. Cigarettes, as well as cigars and pipe tobacco, contain dried tobacco leaves and other added chemicals that increase the flavor and create an addiction. The smoke that comes from tobacco contains a mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals, including over 60 known to cause cancer (carcinogens). Some of these substances can lead to heart and lung diseases, and can be life threatening. You might be surprised to know some of the chemicals that can be found in tobacco smoke:

  • Ammonia—used in household cleaners
  • Arsenic—used in pesticides and rat poisons Benzene--found in gasoline
  • Benzene—found in gasoline
  • Butane—used in lighter fluid
  • Cadmium—used to make batteries
  • Carbon Monoxide—found in car exhaust
  • Chromium—used to make steel
  • Cyanide—deadly poison
  • Formaldehyde—used for embalming
  • Hydrogen Cyanide—used in chemical weapons
  • Lead—once used in paint
  • Malitol—a sweetener not permitted to be used in foods in the U.S.
  • Nicotine—found in bug sprays; one of the harshest chemicals found in tobacco smoke
  • Polonium 210—radioactive and very toxic
  • Tar—material used to make roads
  • Toluene—found in paint thinners
  • Vinyl chloride—used to make pipes

    [5, 6]

Types of Cigarettes

There are many different types of cigarettes including, but not limited to, menthol, non-menthol, and light.  You may have chosen low-tar, mild, light, or ultra-light cigarettes because the name leads you to believe they are less harmful; however,  if you take long, deep, or frequent puffs, tar exposure from the light cigarettes is equal to that of a regular cigarette. Cigarettes that contain the additive menthol create the minty flavor and cooling sensation you may experience when smoking. Regular use of products containing menthol can cause unwanted side effects such as throat sores, asthma, and difficulty breathing. [5, 7]