People who continue to smoke unaware of the detrimental effects that the habit can cause should really stop and take a reality check. Being addicted to smoking is an almost certain way to meet your maker a little sooner, and there have been sufficient scientific studies to endorse this claim. Besides, this is one drug that is administered with meticulous regularity, and the amount of smoke that average smokers inhales in a lifetime would have them subjecting their internal organs to a lot of substances that can play havoc.
While the dangers of smoking are being made public with regularity, a large number of people still remain unaware of what goes inside each cigarette that they smoke. Each cigarette contains chemicals that can kill if consumed in large quantities, and this should ideally make even the most casual of smokers a little wary. If you've ever wondered what goes into the smoke that you inhale, do go through write-up till the very end.
Mainstream cigarette tobacco is derived from two main types of leaves. 'Burley' tobacco comes with 3.5 to 4 percent nicotine content and 'Virginia' tobacco has about 2.5 to 3 percent. Some cigarettes also come with blended tobacco and these could have as much as 10 percent of 'Oriental' tobacco which has less than 2 percent nicotine content. Additionally, cigarettes have fillers that are made using the by-products which result from the whole process of manufacturing cigarettes. The fillers comprise of by-products derived during the processing stage, various additives and flavourings, water, etc. The by-products comprise of:
1. Blended leaf sheets, which are made from dry tobacco dust paste, pectin, and stems of burley leaves that have been milled finely.
2. Improved or expanded stems, which are shredded stems that have first been rolled and flattened. Improved stems are steamed as opposed to being rapidly heated after being soaked as is the case with the expanded stems variant. Both these products differ in taste although they do look alike.
3. Reconstituted leaf sheets, which are made using recycled fine tobacco particles, stems, as well as other tobacco particulate that is collected during the processing stage. These sheets are made by first extracting chemicals from the by-products, then making sheets from the leftover fibre, then reapplying the extracted chemicals onto these sheets, and finally breaking it up into usable tobacco.
4. Expanded tobacco refers to whole tobacco which has been treated using supercritical CO2, which makes the tobacco puff up, and this is the kind of tobacco one can expect to find in 'light' cigarettes.
Do bear in mind that the usage of these by-products does vary from brand to brand.
This is the primary constituent that makes cigarette smoking enjoyable and addictive. In a small dose, nicotine can act as a brain simulant, but when the intake increases, it can work as a depressant, thereby inhibiting the signal flow in between nerve cells. When used continually, and in large quantities, nicotine can also affect blood vessels, the heart, lungs, etc.
Tar is a made up of a combination of substances and appears as a sticky substance within the smoker's lungs. Each cigarette smoked constitutes for some of the tar being deposited in the lungs, and the tar content being inhaled does increase considerably towards the end of a cigarette.
Cigarettes hold over four thousand different ingredients. Amongst the most commonplace ingredients used are caffeine, yeast, beeswax, chocolate, wine, etc. Cigarettes contain various carcinogenic substances and these include benzene (associated with blood cancer), cadmium (linked with prostate and lung cancer), polonium (a known carcinogenic radioactive element), formaldehyde (linked with lung cancer), and extract of the Angelica root (known for causing in animals). Other constituents include:
· Ammonia - Otherwise used as a common household cleaner
· Arsenic - Used as rat poison
· Butane - Used as gas in lighters
· CO (Carbon Monoxide) - Poisonous gas which is also produced when a cigarette is smoked
· Cyanide - A poison well known for its 'quick' action
· Ethyl Furoate - Known for causing liver damage in animals
· Lead - Known to be poisonous if consumed in large quantities
· Maltitol - A sweetener commonly used by diabetics
· Methyl Isocyanate - Poisonous gas
· Nickel - Known to increase vulnerability against lung infections.
· Insecticides such as DDT, Methoprene, and Napthalene.
The Cigarette Paper:
Changes in technology when it comes to cigarette paper can now modify the amount of nicotine and other constituents like tar that is inhaled into the system. For instance, using porous paper ensures that a smoker receives a steady amount of regular air through each drag, thereby reducing the concentration of the toxic substances. Small laser drilled holes work in moderating the amount of smoke that is inhaled through each drag.
Having being introduced in the 1950s, while the filter does work in stopping a fair amount of toxicity from entering a smoker's system, it surely does not do enough. For example, the amount of tar that enters your system even through the best cigarette filters would still be unhealthy. So while these cellulose acetate filters do trap some smoke related particles and tar while making the smoke easier to inhale, they do not block all the constituents that can cause damage.
The amount of nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide found in different cigarettes can vary greatly. For example, the volume of carbon monoxide in cigarettes can be in between 0.05 mg and 3.0 mg per smoke. The damage that these constituents cause can be hard to quantify because of various factors. For instance, the way some people smoke a cigarette could be different from others who smoke exactly the same brand, wherein while some take longer and deeper puffs, others might casually draw on the cigarette. Besides, a smoker can increase the tar and nicotine intake by simply blocking the holes that are designed to allow the inflow of air.
It is also important for smokers to know that each cigarette contains all the aforementioned mentioned constituents, even if they are marketed as 'light' cigarettes. Remember, if the cigarette has tobacco, then it also comes with all the associated perils.