What’s In Your Cigarette?

So you like to smoke? Are you thinking about trying it? Before you do, know this:

Ø In the US, tobacco use is responsible for about one in five deaths annually, or about 443,000 deaths per year.

Ø Each day, about 4,000 kids and teenagers in the U.S. try a cigarette for the first time and about 1,000 begin smoking on a daily basis.

Ø Roughly one-third of all youth smokers, around 6.3 million, die prematurely of smoking related diseases.

Ø On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers.

So what’s the attraction to cigarettes again?

Oh yes, it calms you down. It offers relief after a hard day of school and football practice, helps you deal with problems in your family and stress from your boyfriend. Some say it looks cool–maybe because you see your family members or friends do it. It satisfies that itch you can’t seem to scratch and quiets the butterflies in your stomach. You pick up that small white paper stick of brown leaves, light it and inhale. Have you ever stopped to think about what exactly it is that brings you so much “relief”? What is it about this tiny stick that keeps you always coming back for more?

Cigarettes contain over 4,000 different chemicals. Among these are more than 50 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Many substances are added to cigarettes by companies to enhance the flavor, make smoking more pleasant, or allow you to inhale more with every puff.

  • Ammonia: Household cleaner you use to clean your toilet and bath tub
  • Cadmium: Used in batteries
  • Butane: Gasoline like substance, used in lighter fluid
  • Angelica root extract: Known to cause cancer in animals
  • Arsenic: Used in rat poisons
  • Benzene: Used in making dyes and synthetic rubber
  • Carbon monoxide: Poisonous gas; prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen throughout the body
  • Cyanide: Deadly poison
  • DDT: A banned insecticide
  • Ethyl Furoate: Causes liver damage in animals
  • Lead: Poisonous in high doses
  • Formaldehiyde: Used to preserve dead specimens
  • Methoprene: Insecticide
  • Napthalene: Ingredient in mothballs

If that’s not bad enough, one of the main ingredients in cigarettes is nicotine. There is a reason 2.8 million youth under the age of 18 are current smoker,s and it’s not just because they think it is cool. Nicotine is highly addictive and smoke containing nicotine is inhaled in the lungs and reaches your brain in just six seconds. Like heroin or other addictive drugs, the body and mind quickly become so used to the nicotine that the smoker needs to have it just to feel normal. Most adults who started smoking in their teens never expected to become addicted.

Another harmful ingredient in cigarettes is tar. As you smoke, the amount of tar inhaled increases, and the last puff contains more than twice as much tar as the first puff. These are not chemicals that just go away a few hours after you finish your cigarette–they linger and begin to harm your body. The more you smoke, the better it may feel—but the greater the damage to your body. You may not feel the effects immediately, but you if you could see the inside of your body, the damage is clear. Smoking cigarettes harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes overall health.

Ask yourself if that temporary relief is worth years off your life and decay to your body. So many deadly substances have been added to the cigarettes you enjoy so much. Many were added with the simple job of making you better able to tolerate the toxic amounts of cigarette smoke. They were added without regard to your health and with the intent to keep you addicted. The tobacco industry has a saying, "An addicted customer is a customer for life, no matter how short that life is."

Remember that smoking is a choice. Next time you think about smoking cigarettes ask yourself, “Will I regret this later?” Make sure that you get the last laugh and your next cough isn’t because your just inhaled mom’s toilet-bowl cleaner.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention

National Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society

Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids

Related Posts:

Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Pinellas County

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