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Cigarette Chemicals & The Effects of Smoking on Your Body

Nicotine gets you addicted to cigarettes, but it’s not the most harmful ingredient in a cigarette. In fact, cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals and at least 69 of them cause cancer. These cigarette ingredients also speed up the aging process.

Chemicals in Cigarettes

When you use NICORETTE® instead of smoking a cigarette, you save yourself from the harmful effects of1:

  • Acetone: a flammable solvent used in nail polish remover
  • Acetic acid: an ingredient in hair dye
  • Ammonia: found in household cleaner
  • Arsenic: a poison
  • Benzene: found in rubber cement
  • Butane: used in lighter fluid
  • Cadmium: active component in battery acid
  • Carbon monoxide: released in car exhaust fumes
  • Formaldehyde: the base of many embalming fluids
  • Hexamine: within barbecue lighter fluid
  • Lead: used in batteries
  • Naphthalene: in mothballs
  • Methanol: a main component in rocket fuel
  • Tar: a material for paving roads
  • Toluene: used to make paint

Cancer Causing Chemicals

At least 69 chemicals in cigarettes have been known to cause cancer. They include2:

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Aromatic amines
  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Beryllium
  • 1,3–Butadiene
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Cumene
  • Ethylene oxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nickel
  • Polonium-210
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Tobacco-specific nitrosamines
  • Vinyl chloride

The effects of smoking chemicals on your body

The chemicals have the following side effects on your body in both the short and long term.

Lungs and Cells

  • Tar is deposited in your lungs and contains chemicals called carcinogens, which encourage the development of cancer cells in your body.
  • Tar also damages your lungs by narrowing the small tubs (bronchioles) that absorb oxygen and the small hairs (cilia) that help protect your lungs from dirt and infections, making it harder for you to breath and fight infections3.
  • You’re exposed to chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde that have been linked to a range of different cancers, such as leukemia and kidney cancer.


  • Carbon monoxide takes the place of oxygen in your blood, forcing your heart to work much harder and impacts your lungs proper function. The lack of oxygen in your cells and tissues can lead to heart disease and stroke3.


  • Acetaldehyde, one of the chemicals in cigarette smoke, attacks the connective tissue holding your skin together, and makes your face sag and wrinkle.
  • Your body is sapped of vitamin C, an antioxidant which plays a crucial role in the production of collagen – a natural protein vital for keeping skin healthy and supple.
  • Your circulation suffers because oxygen isn’t pumped around your blood vessels as effectively as in a non-smoker, giving you a dull complexion.


  • The toxic chemicals in cigarette tobacco create sticky ‘tar’ residue all over your teeth.
  • Because smoking reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth, your teeth become stained and discoloured.
  • You’re at an increased risk of periodontitis – or gum disease, which causes inflammation around the teeth leading to swollen gums, bad breath, and in severe cases may even cause your teeth to fall out.


  • Poor circulation from cigarette chemicals results in dull hair and could also lead to premature greying.

The Short-Term Effects of Smoking

The short-term effects of smoking include4:

  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue and a decrease in energy
  • Reduction in the senses of taste and smell
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

The Long-Term Effects of Smoking

The long-term effects of smoking include4:

  • Heat and vessel problems
  • Respiratory and lunch problems, like asthma and coughing
  • Cancers, including lung cancer
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Fertility and pregnancy problems
  • Menstrual issues
  • Erectile problems

It’s never too late by quit smoking. By quitting, you get to enjoy all the health benefits of breaking free from cigarettes.


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Health Benefits of Quitting

You’ll feel the health benefits of quitting within the first hour. Learn what happens to your body after you quit smoking.

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