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What's In a Cigarette?

There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.

Many of these chemicals also are found in consumer products, but these products have warning labels. While the public is warned about the danger of the poisons in these products, there is no such warning for the toxins in tobacco smoke.

Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke and other places they are found:

  • Acetone – found in nail polish remover
  • Acetic Acid –  an ingredient in hair dye
  • Ammonia – a common household cleaner
  • Arsenic – used in rat 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 – embalming fluid
  • Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
  • Lead – used in batteries
  • Naphthalene – an ingredient in mothballs
  • Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
  • Nicotine – used as insecticide
  • Tar – material for paving roads
  • Toluene - used to manufacture paint

What's in an e-cigarette? Get the facts about nicotine, flavorings, colorings and other chemicals found in e-cigarettes. Find out more »

Learn about the American Lung Association’s programs to help you or a loved one quit smoking, and join our advocacy efforts to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Visit Lung.org or call the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).

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