There are currently 599 known additives in cigarettes. The additive report was submitted to the United States Department of Health in 1994 by five leading global manufacturers of cigarettes. However, the list of cigarette additives has been growing since that period and some sources now claim that there are over 600 cigarette ingredients on that list.
Tobacco companies that disclosed their list of ingredients are all established and it may be concluded that they devote some level of attention to what they put inside cigarettes. Smaller cigarette manufacturers may use additional ingredients – even though they would be hard-pressed to find anything deadlier and more toxic that already isn’t on this list.
The five major tobacco manufacturers which published a list of cigarette ingredients are:
- Philip Morris Inc.
- Liggett Group Inc.
- Brown and Williamson
- American Tobacco Company
- J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
It’s important to note that, while there are 600 ingredients that can be used in cigarettes, they produce over 4,000 chemical compounds. When burned, these cigarette ingredients mix together and create deadly substances, 69 of which are carcinogenic.
All cigarette ingredients are FDA approved; otherwise, it would be illegal to use them. However, they are approved as food additives. They were never tested by burning and that particular method of their ingestion is still not regulated by the FDA.
A full list of cigarette ingredients is accessible on Wikipedia. It’s also important to note that most of these ingredients can also be found in other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, snuff, pipe tobacco, cigars, and others. In this article, we will highlight those which are most controversial and cause the most harm to your body.
List of Carcinogenic Compounds in Cigarette Smoke
Let’s take a look at a number of known carcinogenic chemical compounds that are produced by a burning cigarette.
- Acetaldehyde –used to produce acetic acid and butadiene – both toxic substances in their own right
- Acrylonitrile – used in manufacture of plastic – toxic in small doses
- 4-Aminobiphenyl – use prohibited in many countries in the world
- Arsenic – potent poison – highly regulated use in all countries in the world
- Benzene – benzene is a toxin used as a pesticide. It’s also used in gasoline and explosives manufacture
- Beryllium – highly toxic substance that can cause a pulmonary condition called chronic berylliosis – one third of sufferers will die from it while the survivors are left disabled
- Cadmium – lethal dose for a rat is 25 mg/m3 – cadmium is used to produce batteries and in processes of nuclear fission
- Ethylene oxide – known carcinogen that also causes acute poisoning in higher doses
- Formaldehyde – also used for preserving dead tissue in embalming fluids
- Furan – increases the risk of hepatocellular and bile duct tumors
- Hydrazine – used in rocket fuel, fuel cells, and pesticides
- Isoprene – used in production of rubber
- Lead – causes microcytic anemia and interferes with cognition
- Polonium-210 – highly toxic, radioactive isotope
- o-Toluidine – causes DNA damage which results in tumors
This list is by all means not comprehensive but it gives you a general idea of what type of compounds you can expect to find in cigarette smoke. Some of them are radioactive, others highly poisonous, and all will inflict serious damage to your organism in minute quantities.
While it is true that some of these ingredients can be found in tap water and in the food, smokers have to consider the fact that, as such, they do not considerably affect the lungs. They are absorbed into the body and filtered out by kidney and liver before they can do serious damage to organs.
On the other hand, smoke is inhaled. Every single one of those particles ends up in the lungs and lodges there, accumulating and building up. 70% of tar that smokers inhale is not expelled –it stays in the body, either in the lungs or in the mouth and the throat. Most other ingredients behave the same way.
What’s In a Cigarette? Major Ingredients In a Cigarette
Three major ingredients of a cigarette are:
- Carbon monoxide
They have the most adverse effects on human body, regardless of the fact that they are not the most poisonous ingredients that can be found in there.
Tar – it’s important not to mix cigarette tar with natural occurring tar such as wood tar. Wood tar has microbicidal properties that cannot be claimed for cigarette tar. Tar is an umbrella name for a number of particulates that smokers ingest when smoking– basically, tar is everything a smoker inhales and contains every single poisonous particle that can be found in cigarettes.
Tar coats the lungs, causing cilia cells to die out. Without that barrier, tar gets immediate access to the alveoli where it infects the organ with carcinogenic ingredients and causes cancer and other pulmonary diseases.
Nicotine – the addiction culprit. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that compels you to smoke. It’s why smokers go back to cigarettes even when they try to quit. It is a compound naturally found in the tobacco plant and it serves as a bug repellent. That is why it has been used as a pesticide for decades.
Nicotine causes a rush of adrenaline and dopamine in humans. It also increases blood sugar and inhibits insulin production, making smokers feel less hungry as a result. These combined effects make it as addictive as heroin and cocaine and most smokers have serious withdrawal symptoms, both psychological and physical, when they try to quit smoking.
Carbon monoxide – carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that is a byproduct of burning cigarettes. It is also found in car emissions and interferes with breathing and circulatory system. Carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream via the lungs, taking up the space reserved for oxygen. As a result, the cells in the body get less oxygen and the heart has to pump faster in order to deliver that limited supply. Blood pressure also shoots up and this puts smokers at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack.
Other Ingredients in Cigarettes
While we don’t have enough room in this article to highlight every single ingredient that can be found in cigarettes, we wanted to draw your attention to a couple of more which might surprise you.
- Acetic acid – acetic acid can be found in household products such as cleaning wipes, disinfectants, and degreasers. It’s also used for industrial and manufacturing purposes.
- Toluene – found in gasoline and used in the manufacturing of explosives.
- Naphthalene – a poisonous compound used in production of mothballs.
- Hydrogen cyanide – a poison that was used in prison executions.
- Acetanisole – a fragrance used in perfume industry.
- Methanol – an ingredient regularly found in antifreeze used in car industry.
- Methane – gas found in excrement.
- Urea – a compound found in sweat and urine.
The most controversial aspect here is the fact that cigarette manufacturers are not required by the law to write a list of ingredients in their product! How many times have you picked up a product in a store that didn’t have a comprehensive list of ingredients on the back cover? It happens very rarely and in most cases it’s not even legal. Cigarette manufacturers get away with it because their list of ingredients is so huge that it wouldn’t fit on a cardboard box of cigarettes, let alone a single pack – and because it’s so frightening that no one would touch a cigarette ever again.
Make sure you know what you’re smoking and what kind of consequences it could have on your overall health and well-being. Quit now and start restoring your health and make sure you warn all your smoker friends about these highly-toxic ingredients that can be found in every single cigarette. All of them are bad for your health and a good number of them will also lead to cancer in organs such as lungs, mouth, tongue, trachea, skin, nose, and others as well.