Over 3,200 Americans under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette every day and most of them are unaware of what they are getting into.
Many new smokers may not realize how fast their new habit can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung diseases, and certain types of cancer. If you’re looking for an explanation as to why cigarette smoke results in more than 480 000 deaths each year in the US, look no further than its ingredients.
There are over 600 ingredients in one average cigarette, while the cigarette smoke produces more than 7,000 chemicals. If you find out where these ingredients appear except in cigarettes, you will be shocked, and will probably decide to quit smoking for good.
Dr. Luz Claudio, the environmental health scientist with Mount Sinai School, explains that one of the problems with cigarettes is that they contain hundreds of other ingredients besides those in the tobacco plant. Burning of these chemicals results in the production of other chemicals which causes additional effects on our health.
While tobacco companies like R.J. Reynolds insist that a lot of the ingredients found in cigarettes are also found in Food and Drug Administration-approved foods and beverages, a few of these ingredients are also found in products that you would never think to put in your body otherwise. For instance arsenic, an inorganic substance found in wood preservatives and rat poison. On the FDA’s Established List of Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents in Tobacco Products and Tobacco Smoke, arsenic’s dangers include carcinogen, cardiovascular toxicant, and reproductive or developmental toxicant.
Other harmful, and more known cigarettes ingredients are nicotine, which is included in insecticides, and carbon monoxide, found in car exhaust fumes. Another shocking ingredient is the cancer-causing ingredient formaldehyde, which is also found in the embalming fluid. Some other ingredients might not sound so dangerous, like hexamine or cadmium, but the first one is found in barbecue lighters and the latter in batteries. Around 70 of the cigarette ingredients are considered carcinogenic, all of which can lead to death.
Dr. Brian Tiep, pulmonologist specializing in pulmonary rehab with the City of Hope, explains the two ways cigarette smoke can influence the oxygen flow in our bodies. One way is carbon monoxide attaching to the hemoglobin, preventing transportation of oxygen through red blood cells. The other way is cyanide impeding the ability of tissues to receive and utilize oxygen.
According to the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoke accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the U.S. This includes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and 70 percent of among women. Cigarette smoke can also lead to certain lung diseases including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction. There are currently more than 16 million Americans suffering from a disease that was caused by smoking. If appropriate prevention strategies are not put in place to curb the number of young Americans who pick up smoking, an estimated 5.4 million people under the age of 18 will die prematurely due to a smoking-related illness.