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Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful

After reading about the horrific effects of the top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful, you will definitely get some motivation to quit smoking.

According to the American Lung Association, one little tube of cigarette contains approximately six hundred ingredients. And when we light it up, thousands of chemicals are released which a smoker inhales in the form of cigarette smoke. A lot of the components of cigarette and cigarette smoke are not only detrimental to your health, but can also be poisonous or even cause cancer. Cigarettes are obviously harmful to the smokers, but also have a grave impact on the health of passersby, who inhale cigarette smoke and hence are called passive smokers.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful


Nowadays, people are moving towards nicotine free cigarettes under the impression that this new type will cause them negligible or no harm at all. But they are sadly mistaken. If you don’t believe me, you can read up on the 5 reasons why nicotine free cigarettes are harmful and form your own opinion.

In addition to poisonous chemicals and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances, cigarettes also include toxic metals, sometimes even radioactive ones and when they are consumed in a large amount, they are extremely harmful to not only your lungs but the rest of your organs as well, including your heart and brain. So let’s get down to business and begin our list of top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful. To prepare it, we scoured the internet and used many sources, including QuitSmokingSupport, American Lung Association, and VeryWell, to name a few. We have considered both the ingredients contained within the cigarette itself and in cigarette smoke, as both have a severe impact on the smoker’s health; then we researched on the harmful effects of each and came up with the following. Keep reading to find out more!

10. Formaldehyde

We are startin off with Formaldehyde, which is a colorless, pungent gas that’s present in cigarette smoke. It is produced in a limited quantity in our bodies, but not enough to harm us. However, if present in the air at levels higher than 0.1 parts per million (ppm), it results in a severely detrimental impact on our health. Different people exhibit different levels of sensitivity to this chemical, so the amount of damage done varies. There may be both short-term, and long-term effects. The former include irritation of the eyes, nasal passages and throat, which results in a burning sensation in all three. Furthermore, the smoker can suffer from watery eyes, cough, nausea and skin irritation. High levels of exposure increase chances of some types of cancers. To learn more about the sources of formaldehyde and other risks, you might want to consult this list of facts compiled by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful

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9. Ammonia

Ammonia, which is up next on our list of top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful is much like its predecessor, is a colorless, highly-irritating gas with a sharp smell. It is present in the environment, but in low amounts, and in fact, is essential for many biological processes. It is an important component in the manufacturing of fertilizers, as it is a source of nitrogen. However, the large amount in cigarette smoke released directly into the lungs makes it very dangerous for the smoker’s health. Ammonia is added to cigarettes as it elevates the effect of nicotine in a chemical reaction known as freebasing. Ammonia has its own side effects on health too; it causes burning of the nose and throat and increases respiratory distress by destroying the airway and causing edema in the bronchioles and alveoli.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful

8. Cadmium

Next in line on our list of top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful is Cadmium that is an extremely toxic metal which is considered a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is found naturally as well, and has several uses, but is exposed to the general population primarily through food and cigarette smoke. Tiny amounts have no impact, but high levels, which are found in cigarette smoke can be extremely dangerous. Effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sensory disturbances, shock, convulsions and “the cadmium blues” i.e. symptoms like chills and fever. Continuous exposure to high amounts of cadmium might damage the lungs, kidneys, livers, bones and blood, such that renal failure might occur, along with softening of bones and inflammation of the lungs. Some chain smokers even lose their sense of smell.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful


7. Arsenic

Arsenic ranks 7th on our list of top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful. It is another poisonous substance found naturally, and exposure to it in cigarettes is very harmful to our health. One may get arsenic poisoning simply from the levels of arsenic present in food and water, so combined with cigarette smoke, the impact is doubly dangerous. Arsenic is classified as a Group 1 carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and it is responsible for increasing chances of several types of cancers, for example, those of the skin, lungs, and kidneys, to name a few. It may also lead to changes in the pigmentation of the skin as well as skin lesions.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful


6. Lead

Lead ranks 6th on our list of top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful. It is a heavy metal found in cigarettes and is also a neurotoxin, meaning, it is poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue. It interferes with the formation of iron, causing anemia, and leads to constipation, depression, and nausea. The most detrimental consequences of the intake of lead, however, are faced by the nervous system. Lead may not only lead to a decrease in performance and weakness in joints but may hinder and obstruct the development of the brain, especially in children. The functions of the kidneys and the brain are impeded, and in serious cases, death may even occur.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful

5. Hydrogen Cyanide

Hydrogen cyanide is a colorless liquid, extremely toxic, which is why it is in the fifth place on our list of the top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful. Its poisonous nature can easily be deduced from the fact that it is used to kill rats and other pests in gaseous form, and was used for large scale genocide in the second World War. Short term effects include headaches and nausea, but eventually, it results in an erratic heartbeat, seizures, and even death.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful

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4. Carbon Monoxide

We are continuing our list of top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful with Carbon monoxide which is a colorless and odorless, but highly poisonous gas present in cigarette smoke. Everyone has a little bit of it in their blood, but heavy smokers have thrice that amount, so they’re at a heavy risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Victims of this initially suffer from fatigue, headaches, and nausea, but it leads to heavy brain damage and even death. Hence another name for carbon monoxide is “silent killer”. This occurs because this toxic attaches itself to cells in our blood responsible for bringing oxygen to all our organs. Severe oxygen deprivation thus leads to the above-mentioned symptoms.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful

3. Benzene

Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid found in cigarette smoke, and is considered a Group 1 carcinogen. About half the exposure to this toxic chemical in the United States comes from cigarette smoke. Those consistently exposed to benzene, such as factory workers and chain smokers, face an array of symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heart rate, and headaches. It has also been shown to cause blood disorders and blood cancer, according to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. A high intake of benzene may result in death.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful

2. Tar

Tar is a particulate matter created by burning tobacco and other substances in a cigarette. It contains a mixture of harmful chemicals which are toxic to the lungs. When cigarette filters were added to cigarettes, they were expected to stop the tar from going into the lungs, but it wasn’t very effective. The effects of tar are not restrained to smokers; it may be left behind in closed environments where smoking took place, exposing other people to its harmful effects. The characteristic brown stains on the teeth and fingers of consistent smokers come from tar. Not only is it responsible for several lung diseases, the compounds that it contains are carcinogenic in nature and increase chances of lung cancer.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful


1. Nicotine

Number 1 on our list of the top 10 ingredients in cigarettes that are harmful is nicotine. This chemical stimulant in a cigarette is the reason smokers find it excruciatingly difficult to stop puffing on cigarettes. It provides a sensation of pleasure and energy when it reaches your brain, but this feeling dissipates almost immediately, leaving you tired, so you move in for the next puff. It has been connected to a number of adverse effects, on which there is no solid evidence and research is ongoing. But the reason for it being on our list is its addictive nature. Since nicotine is the reason that smokers find it impossible to quit and continue to harm themselves through this activity, we have considered it an extremely harmful substance. The withdrawal symptoms include a huge craving for nicotine, anxiety, headaches and hunger. The reason addicts prefer nicotine in cigarettes is because it reaches your brain within 10 seconds, whereas other sources of nicotine such as nicotine patches take a while, and are hence less pleasurable.

Top 10 Ingredients in Cigarettes that are Harmful