What makes smoking dangerous? What chemicals are found in cigarettes that make smoking a deadly habit?

Cigarettes are made from dried tobacco leaves that contain over 4,000 chemicals including ingredients that are added for flavor. Of that number, 60 are known carcinogens or cancer-causing agents. In addition, tobacco and tobacco smoke have co-carcinogens that don't lead to cancer but can accelerate its growth.

“There are hundreds of substances added to cigarettes by manufacturers to enhance the flavor or to make the smoking experience more pleasant. Some of the compounds found in tobacco smoke include ammonia, tar, and carbon monoxide. Exactly what effects these substances have on the cigarette smoker’s health is unknown, but there is no evidence that lowering the tar content of a cigarette improves the health risk. Manufacturers do not usually give out information to the public about the additives used in cigarettes, so it is hard to know the health risks,” revealed the American Cancer Society (ACS).

One chemical found in cigarettes that we do know is nicotine, a powerful poison and an addicting drug that quickly spreads throughout the body. Nicotine is the reason why many people find it difficult to quit smoking. The US Surgeon General said nicotine addiction is similar to addiction to other drugs like heroin and cocaine.

“Although 70 percent of smokers want to quit and more than 40 percent try to quit each year, fewer than 5 percent succeed. This is because smokers not only become physically addicted to nicotine; there is a strong emotional (psychological) aspect and they often link smoking with many social activities. All of these factors make smoking a hard habit to break,” according to the ACS.

A 70 milligram-injec¬tion of nicotine can kill you. Cigarettes contain about 0.5 to 2 milligrams (mg) of nicotine depending on how the tobacco was cured. How much of this is absorbed by smokers depends on the way they smoke.

If they inhale tobacco, they can absorb as much as 90 percent of this poison. This can affect their nervous system, brain and heart rate.

“Tobacco companies are required by law to report nicotine levels in cigarettes to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but in most states they are not required to show the amount of nicotine on the cigarette package label. The actual amount of nicotine available to the smoker in a given brand of cigarettes is often different from the level reported to the FTC. In one regular cigarette, the average amount of nicotine the smoker gets ranges between about 1 mg and 2 mg,” the ACS said.

What are the ill effects of smoking? How does this bad habit affect your body and shorten your life? Find out in the third part of this series.

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Author's Bio: 

Sharon Bell is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premier online news magazine www.HealthLinesNews.com.