There are many smokers out there who don’t realize all the chemicals that are contained in a cigarette.
Indeed, the inner workings of the cigarette itself often bear little interest to a seasoned smoker. However, it is important to understand what truly lies inside that small round object that produces that addictive smoke.
Many cigarette companies will not willingly expose all the dangers that lie in their product for obvious reasons. The shadow that has been cast on cigarette smoking works well for the cigarette companies and the smokers themselves. There are over 7,000 different chemicals contained in a cigarette, ranging from carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds) to toxic metals, radioactive materials, and of course, nicotine.
The number of chemicals that are harmful to the body is under vigorous debate, with numbers ranging anywhere between 40 and 70. As the chemicals continue to be further explored, so do their potent effects.
The health hazards that lie behind smoking have brought the debate of vaping vs. smoking to center stage. Vaping has been shown in some studies to be 95% less dangerous than smoking, mainly due to the lack of toxic chemicals contained in the vapor. Vapor has repeatedly been shown to contain minimal to no amounts of toxic substances such as tar, benzene, and formaldehyde.
Chemicals in a Cigarette
To further understand the potent chemicals that are contained in a cigarette, and why it is a better option to vape than to smoke, we first need to understand the chemicals that are present in a cigarette itself. There are 600 unique ingredients in a cigarette, and these ingredients produce 7,000 different chemicals when burned.
From these chemicals, about 70 are known to be carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals). A cigarette is formed from the burning of dried tobacco leaves, to which many different additives are included in the final product. These additives are added to enhance the smoking experience. When burned, the mixture of the leaves and additives is what leads to the production of so many different chemicals.
Here is a breakdown of some of the most known chemicals in a cigarette and their effects:
As you probably know, carcinogens are substances that are likely to cause or aggravate a cancerous condition. They tend to disrupt the proper functioning of the cells within the body and cause mutations that can lead to various forms of cancer. Some of the most common types of cancer associated with cigarette smoking include lung cancer, mouth, breast and liver cancers.
In fact, cigarette smoking accounts for about 80% of all lung cancer deaths in the United States. Carcinogens typically contain the following active chemicals:
- Benzene: benzene is found in gasoline and pesticides. It is present in relatively high concentrations in cigarette smoke and poses multiple hazards when inhaled into the body.
- Formaldehyde: have you ever noticed an irritation in your eye, nose or throat when you smoke a cigarette? This is mainly due to formaldehyde at work in its gaseous form.
- Vinyl Chloride: a chemical mostly used to make plastics, vinyl chloride is commonly present in cigarette filters (which is the primary way smokers are exposed to it).
Toxic metals are metal compounds that can be harmful to the body when ingested in large amounts. These include metals such as arsenic and cadmium. Arsenic is present in cigarettes from the pesticides that are used during tobacco farming.
Since the chemical is present in pesticides, it can remain on the tobacco leaves and become ingested by cigarette smokers. Cadmium is another toxic metal that is found in cigarettes, and smokers typically have twice as much cadmium in their bodies as non-smokers.
Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke
In addition to the cigarette itself, cigarette smoke also contains multiple chemicals and carcinogens. In fact, cigarette smoke has been shown to contain over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 that are linked to cancer.
Among the harmful chemicals in the smoke is tar. Tar tends to coat the surface of the lungs by forming a sticky mass over time. This causes a multitude of lung-related infections that cause and accelerate lung cancer. Other harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke include:
- Ammonia: a gas that is commonly used in fertilizers and cleaning products, ammonia makes it way into cigarettes because it boosts the impact of nicotine.
- Carbon monoxide: carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas that is lethal when inhaled in large amounts. It has been shown to be present in cigarette smoke and is often harmful to the body. It reduces the amount of oxygen that the red blood cells can take, making breathing and respiration more difficult.
- Nicotine: we all know it as the addictive element in cigarettes. It is present in high concentrations in cigarette smoke, both primary and second-hand smoke.
Making The Switch To Vaping
In light of all the harmful chemicals that are present in cigarettes and cigarette smoke, switching from smoking to vaping is undoubtedly a better choice. The vapor that is produced by e-cigarettes and other vaping devices does not contain nearly as many harmful toxins as those of cigarettes. In fact, studies are continuing to show that vapor contains only minimal to non-existent concentrations of chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, acetone, tar, and acetaldehyde.
Another good reason to switch to vaping is that you can gradually step down your nicotine intake over time. E-juices make it possible to start off with higher nicotine content and eventually reduce your consumption to nicotine-free levels. This is a more successful path for quitting cigarettes because it reduces the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine and prevents smokers from backsliding to those toxic packets of cigs.
Vape e-juices also come in multiple flavors that can be appealing to former smokers so they can turn away from smoking completely. Menthol-rich e-juice flavors are a favorite among smokers. So if you’re a smoker looking to quit, make the switch to vaping and experience the better option today.
Gianna Del Monte is the Brand Manager at VaporFi. She has been in the vaping industry since June 2015 and has extensive experience in successfully managing and marketing a variety of new vapor product launches. Originally from New Jersey, Gianna has lived in the Miami area for the last 5 years.