Welcome to Healthy Dudley. This is the new public health website.

What’s in a cigarette?

What is in a cigarette?

Smoking causes many serious and fatal diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. It also causes many other cancers, respiratory diseases, strokes and can affect fertility.

Cigarettes contain over 4,000 toxic chemicals and over 60 of these cause cancer.

The three main toxins are nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar.
Nicotine, which is the addictive substance in tobacco, is a mild poison that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, sweating, dizziness and confusion. It can also irritate the eyes and skin. High levels can affect the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, resulting in convulsions and respiratory failure.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas in cigarette smoke. It is also found in car exhaust fumes and produced by faulty gas appliances. It takes the place of oxygen in the blood, causing your lungs to work less efficiently. This stops cells all around your body from getting the oxygen they need.
Tar is the sticky brown substance which stains your fingers and teeth. Tar causes cancer and damages your lungs. It stays inside your lungs, making tubes narrower and reducing your protection against infection.

Some other chemicals found in cigarettes are:

• Acetone – Nail polish remover

• Ammonia – Toilet cleaner

• Arsenic – Rat poison

• Benzo(a)pyrene – Diesel exhaust fumes

• Carbon Monoxide – Petrol exhaust fumes

• DDT and Dieldrin – Insecticides

• Formaldehyde – Preservative for dead bodies

• Hydrogen Cyanide – Poison used in gas chambers

• Methanol – Rocket fuel

• Titanium – Metal used to make aeroplanes