Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. More than 50 of
these chemicals can cause cancer in humans. Some are dangerous in other ways.
Here are some of the ones that can hurt you the most.
Nicotine is an addictive drug. It keeps you smoking once you start. When you
inhale tobacco smoke, nicotine reaches your brain in just seven seconds. This
sudden burst of nicotine causes an instant "high."
Of course, nicotine isnt the only thing that keeps you smoking. You
learn to enjoy the taste, feel and smell of tobacco products. You learn that
activities like drinking coffee or talking on the phone begin to feel incomplete
without a cigarette. And you learn that smoking can make you feel relaxed or
pick you up.
Carbon monoxide is a gas that you cant see or smell. In large amounts, it
starves your body of oxygen. In smaller amounts over a long time period, it
contributes to cardiovascular disease (of the heart and blood vessels).
For pregnant women, it reduces the supply of oxygen to the baby. This can
affect how the baby develops.
Other substances - the "tar" component
About half of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke are found naturally in the
tobacco leaf. The other half are created by the chemical reactions when tobacco
is burned. A few more are added during drying, and for flavor. Many of these
chemicals together form a sticky black residue known as "tar."
Here are just a few of the more dangerous poisons in tobacco smoke: