Cigarettes are primarily composed of tobacco. Tobacco is a green, leafy plant grown in warm climates. A variety of chemicals are not only used in tobacco's growing process but also in the creation of cigaretts in general. In fact, cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. This includes at least 43 carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals. A minimum of 400 other toxins can also be found in cigarettes.

Nicotine is the main addictive agent in tobacco. Nicotine, which is readily absorbed in the bloodstream, sends signals to the brain within 10 seconds. Nicotiine, interestingly enough, produces dopamine, one of the feel-good chemicals. Although the substance calms the individual down, nicotine stimulates the heart rate and blood pressure probably so that the body can take in more oxygen. Unfortunately, nicitine is also most likely to cause withdrawal symptoms when a person attempts to quit smoking.

Tar is another major component of cigarrette. An oily material, tar remains after the tobacco has passed through the filter. In fact, as the tobacco levels decrease, the tar levels increase. For example, the last puff of a cigarette contains about twice as much tar as the first puff does. This substance sticks to the lungs when it is inhaled. If a person smokes at least one pack a day (20 cigarettes or more), about 1.5 pounds of tar will be deposited in the respiratory system for each year he/she smokes.

Other major chemicals and additives found in cigarettes include:

  • Acetone (the stuff used to remove nail polish)
  • Ammonia (it speeds up the delivery of nicotine, creating a freebase effect similar to the way a crack user takes in cocaine)
  • Arsenic (rat poison)
  • Benzene (a cancer-causing agent often found in fuels and dyes)
  • Butane (cigarette lighter fluid)
  • Carbon Monoxide (generally pushed out in the exhaust system of cars, CO prevents the blood from carrying oxygen to the body. Heavy smokers carry about 15% less oxygen around in their bodies than light or non-smokers do.)
  • DDT (an insecticide)
  • Formaldehyde (a chemical agent used to preserve dead bodies)
  • Hydrogen Cyanide (this is a deadly poison utilized in the gas chamber)
  • Methoprene (pesticide)
  • Pyridine (central nervous system depressant)

Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive. However, it should become abundantly clear just by reading the above components that the nickname 'cancer sticks', which is often applied to cigatette, seems to be appropriate. At the very least, upon closer inspection, one can easily see that tobacco and the other products that go into creating cigarettes can definitely be hazardous to one's health.


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