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What Are You Smoking?

What Are You Smoking?

In addition to highly addictive nicotine, cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals. Here's what you're inhaling with each puff:

  • Arsenic (rat poison)
  • Ammonia (poisonous; present in many household cleaners)
  • Acetone (fingernail-polish remover)
  • Benzene (industrial solvent)
  • Carbon monoxide (exhaust-pipe fumes)
  • Cadmium (used in rechargeable batteries)
  • Cyanide (poison used in gas chambers)
  • DDT (insecticide)
  • Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
  • Lead (a poison removed from nearly all paints)
  • Mercury (highly poisonous; easily absorbed through respiration)
  • Nickel (poisonous; a known cancer-causing agent)
  • Hydrogen cyanide (deadly poison used in gas chambers)
  • Hydrogen sulfide (sewer gas)
  • Polonium-210 (radioactive substance)
  • More than 50 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens)

And, of course, nicotine, which isn't just addictive, it's a natural insecticide (it protects the tobacco plant from bugs) and in its pure form is a deadly poison -- one drop could kill a human in minutes.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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