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Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the Nicotiana genus and the nightshade family, and the general term for any product prepared from the cured leaves of the tobacco plant. More than 70 species of tobacco are known, but the chief commercial crop is N. tabacum. 

Tobacco contains the highly addictive stimulant alkaloid nicotine as well as harmala alkaloids. Dried tobacco leaves are mainly used for smoking in cigarettes and cigars, as well as pipes and shishas. They can also be consumed as snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco and snus.

So why is tobacco so bad?

There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, cigarettes create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are toxic.

Many of these chemicals also are found in consumer products, but these products have warning labels—such as rat poison packaging. While the public is warned about the danger of the poisons in these products, there is no such warning for the toxins in tobacco smoke.


Here are a few of the components of tobacco, and tobacco smoke:


3 main components of a cigarette...


Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that you can't see, smell or taste.
Tar is the toxic chemical particles left behind by burning tobacco.


Cigarettes and roll ups...

... are the most popular tobacco product sold in the UK. There is little difference between the two in terms of health.

They contain:

  • two main tobacco leaf varieties
  • fillers inc. stems and other waste products
  • water
  • flavourings
  • additives

The additives...

...are used to make the cigarette more palatable to the user. 600 different additives are currently permitted for use in cigarettes in the UK.

These are:

  • moisturisers to prolong shelf life
  • sugars to enable the smoke to be more easily inhaled
  • flavourings such as chocolate, vanilla and menthol


What are they...

These additives can be toxic when combined with other substances or when burned during smoking.

The list of the 600 additives can be found here

When those 600 additives are burned they release over 7,000 harmful chemicals that get inhaled directly into the lungs these include...

Radioactive Materials

Such as Uranium, Lead and polonium 210. These radioactive materials are given off in the smoke when tobacco is burned, which are then taken directly into smokers lungs as they inhale.

70 different Carcinogens

A carcinogen is defined as any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer. Approximately 70 of the chemicals found in cigarettes are known carcinogens like Benzene, Formaldehyde and Vinyl Chloride. 

Toxic Metals

Toxic/heavy metals are metals and metal compounds. These metals like Arsenic, Cadmium and mercury damage lung tissue and build up over time to cause kidney, liver, bone and blood damage.

Different types of smoke and the dangers they bring

Tobacco smoke is an aerosol produced by the incomplete combustion of tobacco when smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Temperatures in burning cigarettes range from about 400°C between puffs to about 900°C during a puff.

There are three different types of smoke. These are First, Second and Third-hand Smoke.


• First-hand smoke refers to the smoke inhaled by a smoker.

• Second-hand smoke is the exhaled smoke and other substances emanating from the burning cigarette that can get inhaled by others.

• Third-hand smoke is the second-hand smoke that gets left on the surfaces of objects, ages over time and becomes progressively more toxic.

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