top of page

Anatomy of a Cigarette


Inhaled nicotine reaches the brain in 7 seconds, stimulating brain cells.  It accelerates the heart rate and contracts the arteries.  Nicotine is highly addictive.  The cravings of withdrawal are accompanied by anxiety, irritability, hunger, restlessness, and loss of concentration.

If this is not a good enough reason to quit smoking and lessen your dependency on nicotine, cigarettes, and tobacco, then read on as we have outlined the ingredients of a common cigarette and identified some threats to your existence.


More than 4,000 chemicals are released from a lit cigarette. Below are just a few of them.

ACETONE:  A colorless mobile flammable liquid.

Use:  It is most commonly used at home as an active ingredient in nail polish removers.  It is also used to make plastic, fibers, drugs, and other chemicals.

Causes:  Swallowing high levels of acetone can result in unconsciousness and damage to the skin in the mouth.

AMMONIA:  A gas with a characteristic pungent odor.

Uses:  Found in toilet cleaners and production of fertilizers, explosives, and polymers.

Causes:  Carcinogenic even in very small concentrations; and on exposure for longer durations it is considered a long-term hazard to human health.

ARSENIC:  A poisonous metalloid.

Uses:  An ingredient in pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides.

Causes:  Death when ingested (swallowed); kills by massively disrupting the digestive system, leading to death from shock.

CARBON MONOXIDE:  A colorless, odorless, flammable, and highly-toxic gas.

Causes:  May cause nausea and vomiting. Inhalation can be very dangerous and fatal.

CARBON DIOXIDE:  An atmospheric gas composed of one carbon and two oxygen atoms.

Uses :  Liquid and solid carbon dioxide are important refrigerants, especially in the food industry where they are employed during the transportation and storage of ice cream and other frozen foods.

Causes:  Inhalation Asphyxiant (suffocating) can cause hyperventilation.

DDT:  dichlor-diphenyl-trichlorethylene C14H9Cl5

Uses:  A pesticide used on crops to kill mosquitoes.  This chemical has been banned for use in the United States since 1972.

Causes:  Headaches, nausea, and convulsions.

FORMALDEHYDE:  A chemical compound also known methanal, it is a gas with a strong pungent smell.

Uses:  A preservative in vaccinations; also used when preparing the deceased for burial or cremation.

Causes:  Acute effects are toxic in nature and may cause irritation to mucous membranes, difficulty breathing, lowered body temperature, lethargy, coma, and death.  Some of the chronic effects include cancer of the nose and mucous membranes.

HYDROGEN CYANIDE:  Pure hydrogen cyanide is a colorless, very poisonous, and highly volatile liquid.

Uses:  In tempering steel, dyeing, explosives, engraving, the production of acrylic resin plastic and other organic chemical products, and used in gas chambers.

Causes:  Inhalation can also cause headache, dizziness, chest tightness, eye irritation, and itchy skin.

METHANOL:  A light, volatile, colorless, flammable, and poisonous liquid.

Uses:  As a denaturant for ethyl alcohol; and as an antifreeze, solvent, and fuel.

Causes:  It is considered poisonous by inhalation and may cause respiratory failure, kidney failure, and blindness.

“TAR”:  Is produced from coal as a byproduct of coal production.

Use:   Flavoring for candies and alcohol, as an anti-dandruff agent in shampoos, as a disinfectant, and as a component of cosmetics.

Causes:  Leaves deposits of tar in the lungs. The tar in tobacco cigarettes is a major cause of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis.     

ALUMINUM: A soft and lightweight metal.

Use: The manufacturing of aircrafts, rockets, automobiles, trucks, railroad cars, etc. It is also used for packaging, cans, and foil. Powdered aluminum is commonly used for silvering in paint.

Causes: Contact dermatitis, and also evidence of some degree of toxicity is seen if consumed in excessive amounts.

CADMIUM: Rare, soft, bluish-white, toxic transition metal.

Use: In batteries; and mainly for pigments, coatings, and plating, as well as stabilizers for plastics.

Causes: Inhaling cadmium could lead to respiratory tract and kidney problems, which can be fatal. Compounds containing cadmium are also carcinogenic.

COPPER: Chronic exposure can result in a build-up in the kidneys, causing kidney disease. It also shows signs of being a carcinogen, although the evidence is not conclusive.
LEAD: Soft, highly-malleable, bluish-white metal that has poor electrical conductivity.

Use: Lead is used in building construction and in the manufacture of lead-acid batteries, bullets, and shot, and is part of solder, pewter, and fusible alloys.

Causes: Damages nervous connections and causes blood and brain disorders. Long-term exposure to lead or its salts can lead to nephropathy.

MERCURY: Adverse effects on mood, behavior, and memory. More specifically, irritability, tiredness, sleeplessness, tremors, and damage to the nerves in the arms and legs have been reported.
bottom of page