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What is in Cigarette Smoke?

Smoking kills over 120,000 people in the UK each year. Smoking reduces life expectancy by 7 -8 years. Each cigarette shortens the life of the smoker by around seven to eleven minutes. Non-smokers and ex-smokers can also look forward to a healthier old age than smokers.

Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances in the form of gases, particles or both. When you inhale cigarette smoke, dozens of harmful substances enter your lungs and spread through your body. They can reach your brain, heart and other organs within 10 seconds of the first puff.. While the smoker is inhaling, a cigarette burns at 700 degrees Celsius at the tip and around 60 degrees in the core. This heat breaks down the tobacco to produce various poisons. As a cigarette burns, the residues are concentrated towards the butt.

Pipe and cigar smokers who have never smoked cigarettes have a lower risk of heart, lung and stomach diseases, but the samerisk of mouth and throat cancers. This is because the smoke is not inhaled so deeply.

The products of a cigarette that are most damaging to health are tar (which can cause lung cancer), carbon monoxide and nicotine (cardiovascular disease), and the components of the gas and particulate phases, which cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. The effects are influenced not only by the number of cigarettes, but also how the cigarettes are constructed (with or without filters) and how the tobacco has been prepared. Paradoxically, the 'side-stream smoke' that comes off a cigarette between puffs carries a higher risk than directly inhaled smoke. Clearly, there are many health-related reasons to give up cigarettes - not only from the point of view of smokers, but also to protect those around them.

NICOTINE – an addictive drug and a toxin that narrows your veins and arteries. Nicotine raises your
blood pressure and damages your heart by forcing it to pump faster and work harder. It slows your blood
flow, reducing oxygen to your feet and hands. It also affects your appetite.

CARBON MONOXIDE – a gas that robs your heart of the oxygen it needs as fuel to pump blood around
your body. Over time, your airways swell up and let less air into your lungs.

TAR – clogs your lungs and contains many dangerous chemicals that can either cause cancer or act with
other chemicals to stimulate cancer growth.

PHENOLS – hazardous chemicals that paralyse and eventually kill the hair-like cells that normally sweep
clean the sensitive lining of your airways.

FINE PARTICLES – can irritate your throat and lungs, cause ‘smoker’s cough’, make you produce more
mucus and damage lung tissue. More info...

Smoking and Health Risks

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