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Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of chemicals produced by the burning of tobacco and its additives. The smoke contains tar, which is made up of more than 4,000 chemicals, including over 60 known to cause cancer. Some of these substances cause heart and lung diseases, and all of them can be deadly. You might be surprised to know some of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke include:

  • Cyanide
  • Benzene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methanol (wood alcohol)
  • Acetylene (the fuel used in welding torches)
  • Ammonia

Cigarette smoke also contains the poison gases carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. The ingredient that produces the effect people are looking for is nicotine, an addictive drug.

The tobacco leaves used to make cigarettes contain radioactive materials; the amount depends on the soil the plants were grown in and fertilizers used. But this means that cigarette smoke contains small amounts of radioactive material too, which smokers take into their lungs as they inhale. These radioactive particles build up in the lungs, and over time can mean a big dose of radiation. This may be another key factor in smokers getting lung cancer.

Source:   American Cancer Society

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