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What is in a Cigarette?

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The cigarettes we smoke today are not simply made from shredded tobacco leaf and paper.
As well as containing Nicotine (the addictive part), carbon monoxide (poisonous gas - reduces oxygen flow around the body) and Tar (a carcinogen - an agent involved with the development of cancer), hurdreds of chemicals are added to enhance or change the flavour/smell, to keep the cigarette burning, and to heighten the nicotine "hit".

Reconstituted Tobacco

Inside The Cigarette
The cigarettes we smoke today, are made from large amounts of "Reconstituted Tobacco". When tobacco leaf is being cured and cut for filling, scraps (or "by-products") like the stalks, off-cuts and tobacco dust, accumulate and are collected. For the last 50 years these by-products have been re-cycled into paper-like sheets and can be shredded back into tobacco blends. This pads out your ciggy and cuts costs. Reconstituted Tobacco is recycled tobacco sheets, in which additional chemicals can be easily added. Nicotine is extracted from tobacco dust in water and then mixed with the sheet to increase its strength. Other chemicals like Ammonia additives (often found in cleaning products) are incorporated too which delivers nicotine to the brain quickly and more effectively. This makes the product more addictive.

"Light" Tobacco

Some cigarette manufacturers will use tobacco leaf but treat it with Carbon Dioxide and heat. This expands (or "inflates") the tobacco, meaning less tobacco can be used in a regular sized cigarette - again, to cut costs.

Most (if not all) main brand cigarettes we smoke today contain more Reconstituted Tobacco and chemical treated tobacco than ever before.

Enhancers and other Chemicals

Many sources suggest there are as many as 4000 chemicals released into the body from smoking cigarettes. Many tobacco blends are flavoured to improve the taste. Glycol, perfumes, flavourings and enhancers such as cocoa, licorice and aniseed, all sound very nice but when these ingredients burn, they release their own chemicals in the smoke which are also very harmful to our bodies.

Titanium Dioxide and Potassium nitrate (A.K.A Saltpetre - the main component to gunpowder) are added into cigarette paper to prevent it from going out in the ashtray, as well as getting you through your packet quicker!

Formaldehyde (another use is to preserve the dead), Acetone (a common solvent, uses include nail varnish remover), Cyanide and Hydrogen sulphide (Strong poison that effects the nervous system) and Cadmium (used in metals. Like Tar, it's a carcinogen and is absorbed into the lungs), are just many more interesting chemicals stuffed into our cigarettes. Yummy!

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Related Categories

Stop Smoking

Stop Smoking  
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