What Are Some of the Chemicals Found in a Cigarette?


Quick Answer

Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, including toxic chemicals and carcinogens, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chemicals in cigarettes that can cause cancer include formaldehyde, benzene, polonium 210 and vinyl chloride. Toxic metals include chromium, arsenic, lead and cadmium, and poisonous gases include carbon monoxide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, butane and toluene.

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Full Answer

Many of the chemicals in tobacco smoke have practical industrial applications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include manufacturing, such as chromium in steel production, arsenic as an ingredient in pesticides, and benzene as a gasoline additive. These and other harmful chemicals can damage the tissue lining the lungs, leading to lung disease, and damage the body’s deoxyribonucleic acid, causing cancerous cells to develop.

The risk of lung cancer has increased dramatically from 1959 to 2010, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Female smokers were 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer in 2010 than 1959, and male smokers were twice as likely. Smoking can cause cancer and other health problems in the kidneys, liver, bladder, colon and pancreas. Research also shows that smoking contributes to cardiovascular disease. Smoking also impacts nonsmokers as an estimated 2.5 million people have died from the harmful effects of secondhand tobacco smoke, as of 2010.

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