12 July 2013

What exactly is in a cigarette?

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We all know cigarettes are bad for your health...but do you really know why? Sure, you're aware that cigarettes contain tobacco but you probably don't know the specifics of what else goes into a cigarette.

At the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo, we believe that knowing exactly what is in a cigarette is not only an effective deterrent for young people considering taking up smoking, but it can also give smokers extra motivation to quit.

Here is a list of some of the ingredients that go into a cigarette. (Side note: cigarettes contain upwards of 4,000 chemicals—yikes!—so this is just a taste of the most harmful ingredients.)

• Acetone: Some of the long-term effects of acetone exposure (which is found in nail polish remover) include damage to the corneas (eyes), gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver and nerves.

• Ammonia: Found in window cleaner, ammonia has been known to cause respiratory problems, including asthma, coughing and bronchitis. It can also lead to decreased oxygenation of tissues and decrease metabolic functions.

• Arsenic: Used as rat poison, it's no wonder that arsenic is dangerous for your health. It can cause cancer as well as damage the heart and its blood vessels.

• Benzene: Used for making dyes and synthetic rubber, benzene can damage bone marrow and cause a decrease in red blood cells, affecting the immune system. It is especially dangerous for pregnant women to ingest benzene, as it can affect the well-being of the fetus.

• Butane: Also known as lighter fluid, Butane can cause narcosis, asphyxia and cardiac arrhythmia—among other things.

• Carbon Monoxide: An odourless, tasteless and colourless gas found in your car exhaust, carbon monoxide inhibits the body's ability to carry oxygen to vital organs, such as the heart and brain.

• Cadmium: A toxic heavy metal used in batteries, cadmium can be a cause of various types of cancer.

• DDT: A banned insecticide, DDT has been linked to asthma and neurological problems like Parkinsons.

• Formaldehyde: Used as embalming fluid, Formaldehyde can cause widespread nerve damage.

• Hydrogen Cyanide: Found in gas chamber poison, long-term health effects of hydrogen cyanide exposure include heart and brain damage.

• Napthalene: Found in mothballs, naphthalene can cause kidney and liver damage. It has also been linked to the development of hemolytic anemia.

• Nicotine: A deadly poison found in the tobacco plant, nicotine can kill a person in less than an hour if even a small amount is injected into the blood stream. The smoke from tobacco contains very small doses of nicotine that alone are not deadly, however they can deteriorate your health over time.

• Polonium: A rare and highly radioactive element, polonium has been known to cause lung cancer.

• Sulphur Compounds: Found in matches, sulphur can destroy cilla—protective hairs in our lungs that work to clear away harmful chemicals.

• TSNA: A compound of four carcinogenic chemicals that have been known to cause cancer of the mouth, pancreas, lungs, esophagus and liver.

Rat poison? Embalming fluid? Window cleaner? These things are clearly not meant to be ingested. It's time to stop putting these harmful chemicals into your body—it's time to quit! If you need help to quit smoking, download our iPhone and android quit smoking app, available at www.crushthecrave.ca.

FaLang translation system by Faboba

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