What’s inside your cigarettes and how do these chemicals affect you?
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What chemicals are in your cigarettes
- Where else you can find the same chemicals
- If filters make cigarettes less harmful
- The truth about “light” cigarettes
- If tobacco with “no added chemicals” is healthy
And it’s important to know what are the chemicals in your cigarettes because most smokers have no idea what they smoke.
I didn’t know what was in my cigarettes when I smoked and I was shocked when I found out!
Also, knowing what’s in your cigarettes is going to help you see cigarettes objectively; not as a friend or a crutch– but see smoking for what it is, with clear eyes.
This article is not about health scares, it’s about facts. After all, you want to smoke it, at least know what’s inside.
25 Chemicals in Your Cigarettes
Your cigarettes have 600 different ingredients and when you light up and the cigarette is burning, these ingredients combine to form more than 4000 chemicals!
Have you ever wondered why every product you consume has a list of ingredients EXCEPT your cigarettes?
From foods to household cleaning products, everything has ingredients and warning labels about toxic chemicals. Your cigarettes don’t.
Below is a list of the chemicals in your cigarettes.
You already know that cigarettes have nicotine inside.
Nicotine is a natural pesticide that protects plans from being eaten by insects.
A common question I get asked is “does nicotine cause cancer?”
And the answer is: we are not sure. Although nicotine is not considered a carcinogen at the moment, studies have found that it can promote the genesis of tumors and can create resistance in some chemotherapy agents.
You can learn more about nicotine and how it affects your body here.
But there are a lot of toxic chemicals in a cigarette besides nicotine.
Methanol is the main component in rocket fuel.
Benzene is in rubber cement, gasoline and manufacturers use it to make dyes. Also, benzene is linked to Leukemia.
3. Hexavalent Chromium
You can find this chemical in textile dyes, wood preservation, anti-corrosion products, and colors in paints, inks, and plastics. It is toxic, carcinogenic and when inhaled, it can cause lung cancer and cancer of the nose.
2-Naphthylamine is a carcinogen and you can find it in dyes. Even though it has been replaced by less toxic compounds in making dyes, the tobacco companies still put it in your cigarettes.
You can find cadmium in battery acid and paint. Cadmium can contribute to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
Cigarettes have cadmium inside because the tobacco plant absorbs heavy metals like cadmium from the surrounding soils, so when you smoke it, it enters your body. Smokers have 4 to 5 more cadmium in their blood than non-smokers.
There are two ways you can come in contact with this chemical. One, by being around chemical dyes or two, by inhaling cigarette smoke.
Researches have shown that this chemical is responsible for bladder cancer in humans and dogs by damaging the DNA. And because of its carcinogenic effects, the commercial production of this chemical stopped in the United States in the 1950s. (But the tobacco companies still put it in your cigarettes.)
7. Vinyl Chloride
This is a gas with a sweet smell. It is highly toxic, flammable and carcinogenic.
8. Ethylene Oxide
Ethylene Oxide is the main component of fuel-air explosives. They put it in tobacco to make the tobacco leaves mature more quickly and kill fungi.
Arsenic is used in rat poison. The United States Agency for toxic substances and disease registry ranked arsenic as the most harmful substance in 2001. Arsenic is classified as a group A carcinogen. It doesn’t get worse than that.
Nickel is in batteries, metal surface treatments, and pigments. It is a carcinogen and it’s linked to lung cancer. Workers exposed to nickel have shown a high risk of lung cancer and other lung infections.
More Chemicals in Your Cigarettes…
Polonium is the radioactive element discovered by Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, and it is known to cause cancer. It is used to power artificial satellites and in initiators of atomic bombs, in reaction with beryllium.
Apart from being used in initiators of atomic bombs in reaction with polonium, beryllium can also be found in coal slag. The International Agency for research on cancer lists beryllium and its compounds as category 1 carcinogens.
Formaldehyde is a disinfectant, it’s used to preserve dead specimens, and it is linked to lung cancer.
Tar is a carcinogenic chemical. When you inhale tobacco, this leaves tar in your lungs. Tar coats the cilia in your lungs and causes them to stop working. The cilia in your lungs are responsible for keeping your lungs clean and healthy. Because your cilia stop functioning properly, this causes cancer and other lung diseases.
Tar also harms the mouth, makes your teeth and gums black, and destroys your taste buds.
Acetone is the main ingredient of nail polish remover.
Cyanide is a deadly poison. Throughout history, people used this chemical to commit suicide.
Cyanide was also used to mass murder in the Holocaust in the gas chambers.
17. Acetic Acid
Acetic acid is an ingredient in hair dye.
Ammonia is a common household cleaner. We use it to clean windows and the toilet.
So why do they add ammonia in your cigarettes?
Because by adding ammonia, your lungs can absorb more nicotine, so your brain can get a higher dose of nicotine with each puff.
Butane is a gas you can find in lighter fluid.
20. Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide is a chemical released in car exhaust fumes and it is a poisonous gas.
Led is used in batteries and it is poisonous in high doses.
Naphthalene is an ingredient found in mothballs. It is used to create black smoke in simulated explosions, and it’s linked to cancer.
23. Methyl Isocyanate
This is a gas and its accidental release killed thousands of people in 1984 in the Bhopal gas tragedy in India.
Toluene is used to manufacture paint.
DDT is a banned insecticide because it’s linked to liver cancer.
And what I just mentioned are only some of the thousands of chemicals that are in your cigarettes. Unfortunately, the list goes on and on.
Do Filters Make Cigarettes Healthier?
When cigarettes first came out, they were unfiltered because this allowed all the “flavors to come through”.
But when people started finding out that cigarettes cause cancer, they were worried, so Big Tobacco started putting filters to remove some of the tar.
However, this made cigarettes too bitter. So what did they do? They added even more chemicals to remove the bitterness.
The truth is that filters don’t make cigarettes any healthier, and they don’t remove nearly enough tar and chemicals. This is a marketing ploy to keep you smoking.
Are Light Cigarettes Healthier?
Lighter cigarettes used to be the cigarettes with less tar or less nicotine.
But this new name was misleading smokers into thinking that these cigarettes are healthier. So the tobacco companies were required by law to change their name to low-yield cigarettes.
Research shows that the risk of getting sick from smoking is virtually the same whether you smoke low-yield cigarettes or normal cigarettes.
And the thing is that when you smoke a low-yield cigarette, you inhale more intensely to get the same amount of nicotine that you used to get from a regular cigarette, so it’s not a low-yield cigarette anymore.
Is Tobacco with “No Added Chemicals” Healthier?
No added chemicals doesn’t mean chemical-free. For example, “natural” tobacco would still have the cancerous heavy metal Cadmium (see above) which the tobacco plant absorbs from the soil and it’s not added in the manufacturing process.
Normal tobacco has 4000 chemicals. Inhaling 1000 chemicals instead of 4000 does not make it healthier. It’s just a ploy to get you smoking without feeling “guilty”. At the end of the day, “natural” tobacco can even be worse because you still inhale fumes into your lungs, and you’re under the false impression it’s healthy so you don’t feel the urge to quit.
Why Your Pack Doesn’t List The Chemicals In Your Cigarettes?
I encourage you to think about why these ingredients are not on your pack. The warning labels that are already on your pack and show you what cigarettes do to your health, they don’t work.
Because we always rationalize “this is not going to happen to me”. This is a defense mechanism that allows us to keep on smoking.
Every smoker experiences cognitive dissonance: a conflict in your mind between wanting to smoke -because you’re addicted – and knowing it’s harming you.
And because your brain can’t live in conflict, it rationalizes that cigarettes can’t be THAT bad and that you’ll be fine. That’s why the warning labels on your pack don’t work.
On the other hand, seeing the ingredients that are in your cigarettes, takes away the illusion that there’s something magical in your cigarettes that helps you cope with life, socialize, and relieve stress. There’s nothing to it.
Every time you have a craving, think that chemists are having a meeting with the big tobacco executives and they try to figure out what chemicals to add in your cigarettes to keep you addicted. I don’t know if this sounds far-fetched to you but, truth be told, 600 ingredients didn’t end up in your cigarettes by accident.
What to Do
There are a lot of chemicals in your cigarettes, yes. But the good news is that your body starts recovering immediately after you stop putting these chemicals in it.
Our body is a genius machine. 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette, your blood pressure has returned to normal. In 48 hours, your senses of taste and smell have started to improve. In 2 weeks, your heart attack risk has started to drop and in just 90 days, your lungs are healthier!
Every cigarette you don’t smoke matters and it’s never too late to stop – as long as you do.
So if you want to know how to quit smoking naturally in a way that works even if you have failed before, make sure you get the foundational video if the CBQ Method. It’s going to help you get started.
The CBQ method is a psychology-based method- it involves no drugs or medications. It has 4 quit smoking stages that are designed to remove the desire for cigarettes and change how you think about smoking and break the habit.
These 4 stages help you reprogram your brain so you can stop seeing cigarettes as a friend or as a crutch. The CBQ Method has helped thousands of people quit smoking for good. And it’s the same method I talk about in my TED talk.