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What Is The Addictive Substance Found In Tobacco

What Harmful Chemicals Does Tobacco Smoke Contain

Tobacco Addiction: Nicotine and Other Factors, Animation

Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers. Breathing even a little tobacco smoke can be harmful .

Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia .

Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer. These cancer-causing chemicals include the following :

Exposure To Substances In Smoke

The quantity of each individual substance present in smoke is not the same for all cigarettes or all tobacco products. How much of a substance you are exposed to depends on the type of product , the brand , as well as on a persons smoking behaviour .

RIVM develops methods for measuring the amounts of various substances in cigarettes or cigarette smoke. This information can be used to evaluate the substances harmful effects.

Using Nicotine With Other Drugs

The effects of using nicotine with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and could cause:

  • Nicotine +benzodiazepines: reduced effectiveness of benzodiazepines.
  • Nicotine + contraceptive pill: increased risk of blood clots forming.7

Its important to check with a medical professional about whether nicotine might affect any medications you are taking.

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What Does It Look Like

Tobacco is prepared differently depending on how it will be consumed:

  • Cigarettes use finely cut tobacco leaves that are rolled in thin paper.
  • Cigars use whole tobacco leaves.
  • Snuff is a finely ground powder of tobacco leaves that often comes in teabag-like pouches.
  • Chewing tobacco uses shredded or twisted tobacco leaves.
  • Hookah uses flavoured and sweetened tobacco that is heated, and the smoke filters through water into a mouthpiece.

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Additional Resources


  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health 2010.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You . Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health 2010.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease. The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease . Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health 2010.
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    Government Regulation Of Tobacco Products

    On May 5, 2016, the FDA announced that nationwide tobacco regulations now extend to all tobacco products, including

    • e-cigarettes and their liquid solutions
    • cigars
    • hookah tobacco
    • pipe tobacco

    This ruling includes restricting sale of these products to minors. For more information, see the FDA’s webpage, The Facts on the FDA’s New Tobacco Rule.

    In December 2019, the federal government raised the legal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years, and in January 2020, the FDA issued a policy on the sale of flavored vaping cartridges.

    Is It Important For Someone Diagnosed With Cancer To Quit Smoking

    Quitting smoking improves the prognosis of cancer patients. For patients with some cancers, quitting smoking at the time of diagnosis may reduce the risk of dying by 30% to 40% . For those having surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatments, quitting smoking helps improve the bodys ability to heal and respond to therapy . It also lowers the risk of pneumonia and respiratory failure . In addition, quitting smoking may lower the risk that the cancer will recur, that a second cancer will develop, or that the person will die from the cancer or other causes .

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    Why Do People Start Smoking

    Most people who smoke started smoking when they were teenagers. Those who have friends and/or parents who smoke are more likely to start smoking than those who dont. Some teenagers say that they just wanted to try it, or they thought it was cool to smoke.

    The tobacco industrys ads, price breaks, and other promotions for its products are a big influence in our society. The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars each year to create and market ads that show smoking as exciting, glamorous, and safe. Tobacco use is also shown in video games, online, and on TV. And movies showing people smoking are another big influence. Studies show that young people who see smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking.

    A newer influence on tobacco use is the e-cigarette and other high-tech, fashionable electronic vaping devices. Often wrongly seen as harmless, and easier to get and use than traditional tobacco products, these devices are a way for new users to learn how to inhale and become addicted to nicotine, which can prepare them for smoking.

    Treatment Options For Tobacco Use Disorder

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    Several treatment options help with smoking cessation and tobacco use disorders. Many people find a combination of treatments offers the greatest likelihood of successful smoking cessation.

    These include:

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy
    • Positive reinforcement
    • Prescription and over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy , including the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, the nicotine lozenge, nasal spray, and inhalers
    • Counseling

    Electronic cigarettes are marketed as a smoking cessation tool, but many people in the medical community do not consider these tools effective for helping people stop smoking.

    Adolescent smokers introduced to e-cigarettes have just as great of a risk of addiction and health problems as people who smoke cigarettes.

    Smokeless tobacco use is also seen by some as a smoking cessation tool. Using smokeless tobacco reduces the risk posed to others in relation to second-hand smoke, but it is still a dangerous practice and does little to nothing to help someone with treating tobacco or nicotine addiction.

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    Symptoms Of Tobacco Use Disorder

    The most noticeable symptom of tobacco use disorder is being unable to quit using without success. Additionally, some people feel angry or depressed when they attempt to end their addiction. Other symptoms of tobacco use disorder include:

    • Developing health problems related to smoking, including certain cancers, bronchitis, heart problems, vision problems, and poor immune system health
    • Neglecting relationships and responsibilities to smoke
    • Avoiding people who encourage you to quit smoking

    Over time, people with tobacco use disorder develop the many negative physical effects associated with smoking. Their health suffers and their recurrent tobacco use puts them at a higher risk of a wide variety of problems.

    Psychological And Behavioral Treatments

    Some people who use tobacco have success with methods such as:

    • hypnotherapy
    • cognitive-behavioral therapy
    • neuro-linguistic programming

    These methods help the user change their thoughts about addiction. They work to alter feelings or behaviors your brain associates with tobacco use.

    Treatment for a tobacco addition requires a combination of methods. Keep in mind that what works for one person wont necessarily work for another. You should talk to you doctor about what treatments you should try.

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    How Can People Get Treatment For Nicotine Addiction

    Both behavioral treatments and medications can help people quit smoking, but the combination of medication with counseling is more effective than either alone.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has established a national toll-free quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, to serve as an access point for anyone seeking information and help in quitting smoking.

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    The FDAâs new approach to cigarettes is good for public health.

    Researchers are also looking at other chemicals in tobacco that make it hard to quit. In the brains of animals, tobacco smoke causes chemical changes that are not fully explained by the effects of nicotine.

    The average amount of nicotine in one regular cigarette is about 1 to 2 milligrams . The amount you actually take in depends on how you smoke, how many puffs you take, how deeply you inhale, and other factors.

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    Can You Smoke Coffee

    Smoking coffee is unlikely to result in anything more than a waste of perfectly good Joe that could be better off enjoyed brewed and in a cup. If you want to get the proven benefits of coffee, just drink it. And if it’s a high you’re after, you’re probably not going to find it in a coffee cigarette .

    Get Help To Quit Smoking

    If you want to quit smoking, you have options that can help. Talk to your doctor about what they recommend.

    They might suggest nicotine replacement therapy , which comes in various forms and administers small doses of nicotine without the other toxic additives that are in cigarettes. NRT can help ween you off of smoking.

    It can be tough to quit smoking but know that you’re not alone. Attending a support group either in person or online can help you stay motivated to quit.

    You can even download a quit smoking app on your phone. Having other people and support systems to hold you accountable for your goal of staying smoke-free can make a huge difference.

    If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

    For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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    Getting Help For An Addiction

    The symptoms of addiction vary depending on the substance being abused, but there are various general warning signs that an addiction has taken root:

    • An overwhelming desire to use
    • Problems at school, work or at home
    • Changes in physical appearance
    • Secretive behavior or unexplained absences

    Addiction treatment remains the most effective and safest way to overcome an addiction and achieve sustained sobriety especially to any of the top 5 most addictive substances on the planet.

    Jeffrey Juergens

    • About

    Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelors and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffreys desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffreys mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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    How Addictive Is Smokeless Tobacco

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    Smokeless tobacco is made with tobacco leaves that are usually sucked on. These are also widely known as spit or more often as chewing tobacco. Users fill their mouths, typically between their cheeks and gums, with tobacco leaves instead of smoking them.

    Some forms are dried and inhaled through the nose. The substance generally found in cigarettes and other tobacco products is nicotine which is also present in smokeless tobacco.

    Teens who use such products for recreation eventually get addicted to nicotine based on the data from the Centers for Disease Control. Furthermore, there is also a higher chance that they will become cigarette smokers in the long run. In short, smokeless tobacco is highly addictive as well.

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    Its Never Too Late To Stop Smoking

    If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is to stop it could even save you thousands of pounds each year. The NHS has a calculator to work out how much you could save by stopping smoking.

    Stopping can be difficult, but it is possible. And the number of people who have stopped smoking is increasing.

    Using prescription medicine with support of a free, local stop smoking service, is most likely to help you to stop for good. But how you chose to quit is up to you.

    Does Quitting Smoking Lower The Risk Of Getting And Dying From Cancer

    Yes. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer and other diseases caused by smoking. Although it is never too late to benefit from quitting, the benefit is greatest among those who quit at a younger age .

    The risk of premature death and the chances of developing and dying from a smoking-related cancer depend on many factors, including the number of years a person has smoked, the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the age at which the person began smoking.

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    Is Smoking Addictive

    Smoking is highly addictive. Nicotine is the drug primarily responsible for a persons addiction to tobacco products, including cigarettes. The addiction to cigarettes and other tobacco products that nicotine causes is similar to the addiction produced by using drugs such as heroin and cocaine . Nicotine is present naturally in the tobacco plant. But tobacco companies intentionally design cigarettes to have enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.

    The amount of nicotine that gets into the body is determined by the way a person smokes a tobacco product and by the nicotine content and design of the product. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth and the lungs and travels to the brain in a matter of seconds. Taking more frequent and deeper puffs of tobacco smoke increases the amount of nicotine absorbed by the body.

    Can You Get Addicted

    Nicotine (Cigarettes) and Alcohol Abuse

    Yes. Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug. Smoking any drug gets it to the brain very quickly. It takes just 8 to 10 seconds for the nicotine to reach the brain after tobacco smoke is inhaled. Smokers can get hooked very quickly and it can take years and a huge effort to kick the habit. Many people people who smoke wish they hadn’t started in the first place.

    For advice on stopping smoking, visit the or call the NHS Smokefree helpline on .

    Worried about tobacco use?

    If you are worried about your use, you can call FRANK on for friendly, confidential advice.

    Was this information useful?

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    Chemicals In Other Tobacco Products


    In addition to nicotine, other tobacco products, like hookah, contain some of the same chemicals as cigarettes. Carbon monoxide, metals, and carcinogens can be found in hookah smoke, and hookah users are at risk for some of the same health effects as smokers as a result of these chemicals.10,11 Research shows that hookah smokers may absorb even more of the toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke because of the length of hookah smoking sessions.11 A typical 1-hour hookah session can produce as much smoke as several packs of cigarettes.

    Smokeless Tobacco

    Smokeless tobacco, although not combustible, contains a mix of 4,000 chemicals, including as many as 30 or more that are linked to cancer.12

    These chemicals include heavy metals cadmium, lead, and nickel as well as arsenic, a chemical used in insecticides formaldehyde, which is used in embalming fluid and N-Nitrosonornicotine , among others.13 NNN is known to cause cancer in animals and has been linked to an increase in the risk of cancer among humans.14,15

    About 1,300 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer each year because of smokeless tobacco use. Smokeless tobacco use also causes esophageal and pancreatic cancer.16-21


    What If I Smoke Rollies Or Shisha

    Shisha, hookah, waterpipes, cigars, pipes, and hand-rolled cigarettes or rollies all contain toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.

    They are no less harmful, and may in fact increase your exposure to toxic chemicals. Compared with smoking a cigarette, in an average waterpipe session youll inhale 2-3 times more nicotine, 25 times more tar, and up to 50 times more lead.

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    How Do People Take It


    Most people smoke tobacco in a cigarette. Cigarettes can be manufactured or hand rolled using rolling tobacco.


    Shisha is flavoured tobacco that is smoked using a water pipe . The tobacco is burned in a bowl containing charcoal and the smoke is sucked through the water pipe, which cools the smoke down allowing it to be breathed in by the smoker.

    Shisha is a part of Middle Eastern and Indian culture, but it is also used in the UK among non-Middle Eastern and Indian groups.

    Other types Other types of tobacco include cigars, cigarillos and chewing tobacco.

    What Chemicals Are In Cigarette Smoke

    Chemicals in Every Tobacco Plant Growth Stage

    Experts say that cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 different compounds. A significant number of them are toxic and can damage our cells and many of them are carcinogenic . If youve ever wondered exactly what you might be breathing in when you inhale cigarette smoke, this list is a real eye opener.

    Weve listed information on a few compounds found in tobacco and cigarette smoke. Note that the most abundant ones, tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide are at the bottom of this list:

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