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Do Manufacturers Add Chemicals To Cigarettes To Make Them More Addictive?

Updated on April 8, 2013
If you smoke commercial cigarettes and think you're only smoking tobacco and paper, think again!
If you smoke commercial cigarettes and think you're only smoking tobacco and paper, think again! | Source

Smoking has been proven to cause serious and often fatal diseases including several types of cancer as well as respiratory disease and Coronary Heart Disease, the number one medical killer in the United States. It can also cause serious health issues for women that can affect pregnancy, fertility and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. If all that wasn't bad enough, second hand smoke can make people who have never touched a cigarette very ill, especially children.

And still, as many as fifty three million Americans smoke them.

The main addictive property of tobacco is nicotine, which is an alkaloid formed in plants and is also sometimes used as an organic pesticide. The type of nicotine found in tobacco is closely related to the nightshade family - of which many species are toxic. It's the nicotine that gives smokers the rush that keeps them addicted. Nicotine is also responsible for raising smokers' heart rates, enhancing their alertness and giving them a sense of euphoria.

Some studies indicate that some of the big tobacco companies raised the levels of nicotine in their cigarettes by as much as ten percent between 1998 and 2004.The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that adding nicotine to cocaine made it more addictive. It has also been estimated that cigarette smoking may be one of the most difficult addictions to quit. It's as hard to kick cigarettes as it is to quit heroin, and quitting cigarettes can bring some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms, including intense cravings, depression and anxiety.

Cigarette smoking is responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the US yearly.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the US yearly. | Source

599 Chemicals, 4000 Possible Compounds In Cigarette Smoke

In 1994, the five major American tobacco companies submitted a list of chemical additives that are put into their cigarettes and other tobacco products. Although all of these chemicals are approved for use in food by the Food and Drug Administration, no studies have ever been done to determine the effects of these chemicals when they are ignited.

But there weren't just a few chemicals, there were-five hundred and ninety-nine of them. Because of the large number of additives, there are over four thousand chemical compounds that can be created by lighting a cigarette. Tobacco companies are not required to list their ingredients on cigarette packaging, and they do not have to disclose what chemicals are used or in what quantities they are used. While some of the chemicals were fairly innocent, like chamomile, dandelion root and thyme, some are pretty frightening. We're talking ammonia, ethyl alcohol and arsenic. They are presumably added to tobacco to make cigarettes more tasty and addictive.

Here is a short list of some of the worst ingredients than can be found in your cigarettes.

  • Ammonia is a household cleaner. It is put into cigarette because it changes the properties of nicotine, and makes cigarettes more addictive. It is generally approved by the FDA to keep bacteria out of packaged meats.
  • Naphthalene, more commonly referred to as Naphtha, is one of the main ingredients in moth balls, carpet cleaning solutions as well as napalm. You read that right. Napalm.
  • Benzene is also used for making rubber.
  • Acetanisole is used as a flavoring in food. It is made from the glandular secretion of the beaver.
  • Malitol is a chemical sweetener for diabetics.
  • Propyl acetate is a chemical solvent used because it smells like pears.
  • Sodium chloride is simple table salt added to cigarettes because of its preservative qualities.
  • Acrolein, nickel, cadmium (the same stuff in batteries), pyridine and catechol all cause respiratory illnesses when smoked. Cadmium can also cause kidney disease.

Some of the chemical compounds created by smoking a cigarette are even worse.

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound that is formed by the combustion process of cigarette smoking. It is used primarily for preserving dead animals and tissue specimens as well as building materials. Its presence in cigarette smoke is three times the recommended limit for occupational jobs. It is responsible for the irritation that most smokers experience in their nose, throat and eyes.

Carbon monoxide found in cigarette smoke can cause many symptoms, including dizziness, headaches, nausea, chest pains and, in extreme cases, death.

Cigarette smoke contains tar, which sticks to the lining of the lungs. Tar is what makes a smoker's lungs turn black, and is the cause of 95% of the lung cancer associated with smoking.

In 2009, the tobacco industry started putting sodium silicate into the cigarette papers, to make them go out faster. These cigarettes are called Fire Safety Cigarettes, or FSCs. The silicates in FSCs immediately started making people sick with headaches and low grade fevers. Silica comes from sand and, at high levels, can cause a pulmonary disease called silicosis, one of the oldest occupational diseases in the world.

Stopping smoking now greatly reduces your risk of health issues.
Stopping smoking now greatly reduces your risk of health issues. | Source

Do you believe cigarette manufacturers add chemicals to make their cigarettes more addictive?

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How To Avoid Chemicals In Cigarettes

Obviously, the best way to avoid all of the added chemicals in cigarettes is to stop smoking right now - this very minute. The benefits of quitting are immediate.

There are a lot of 'quit smoking' products on the market, many of them can and do work, but a lot don't. Before beginning any plan to stop smoking, talk to your doctor. Talk with your friends and family who have quit smoking and see what helped them. Find internet support groups, some areas even have Alcoholics Anonymous type groups that support each other's efforts to quit. Keep in mind that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another; you just have to find the right path for you.

If you are unable or unwilling to quit, try herbal cigarettes, or making your own cigarettes with organic tobacco. These may be difficult to find in some areas, but most towns and cities do have tobacconists that can order specific products on request. Some tobacco dealers have online stores, but check the legality of buying cigarettes or tobacco for your state or locality.

Video About the Additives (and Other Things) in Cigarettes

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    • profile image

      Kim 2 years ago

      Greedy nicotine companies trying to put every chemical in their grasps to make it harder for me to quit smoking WHY they get away with this?ITS murder is it not?They put stuff in these cigs so we can't quit easy.They make it darn near impossible. I think its unfair of them.I am trying to quit right now and its really also angers me the companies who make the gum,lozenges,patches etc are just as greedy.Come on money lovers.On one hand they want us to stop smoking on other they don't make up your insane minds. I would be happy if I walked in stores in morning and found out ALL cigs in world were pulled NEVER to be made again. OH and have read some different places where current smokers are saying they love to smoke.THEY LIE.There is not 1 person who smokes now who would tell you they truly love smoking.Everyone would love to go back in time to day they first smoked and slap that first cig right out of the hands of themselves.

    • profile image

      Maureen 3 years ago

      Hi Georgie Lowery, I hope you've made some progress with quitting smoking because it really is quite liberating to be free of this expensive and unhealthy habit! I tried for years to quit and finally found what worked for me: the nicotine patch. I didn't quit forever the first time I used it - was around smoking friends for a weekend and went back to it. The second time I was more prepared and was ready with a good supply. This is how I quit (and how I helped my sister to quit) and if it helps even one person, I'm happy. I bought a 42 day supply of nicotine patches all at once. The first time I used the regular nicotine patches, the second time I used the Equate Walmart version, didn't find any difference so I bought the Equate when helping my sister (much cheaper). I then applied one-half of a patch per day and put the other half in a ziplock baggie (this helped me turn a 14 day supply into a 28 day supply). I only took the patch off in the morning after taking my shower (I didn't even take it off during my shower, just removed it after my shower and put on a different spot once I dried off). This kept me from having any cravings overnight or even in the short time from having it off in the shower. I purchased the full month's supply beforehand because if I wasn't able to get to the store before running out, it's cheaper to buy a pack of cigarettes than a box of patches even though it's only a fix for a day. Once I knew I was fine and no longer thought of having that cigarette the moment I woke up and found I didn't feel the need to run outside for a quick smoke any longer, I then knew I was able to stop the patches. If you end up not needing the third box of patches, you can always return them, but it's better to have them on hand then to not. You might look at the price and say you can't afford them, but ask someone that usually buys you a gift for your birthday or the holidays to either buy them as your gift (as I did for my sister) or to group people to pitch in for it and buy it for your gift for birthday or holiday. Once you quit, you'll be amazed at just how much more money you have not having to put out almost $10 a day for cigarettes! And buying a carton of cigarettes at a time is worse because you smoke even more! Lastly, I bought a bag of butterscotch hard candy to suck on to help me put something in my mouth whenever I did get a cigarette crave. Eventually you won't need this, but remember you're not only addicted to the nicotine, but you're also in habit of putting that cigarette to your mouth throughout the day. Get used to putting whatever hard candy you like into your mouth instead (hard candy because you get a lot more time with it and you want about the same amount of time as a cigarette would take to enjoy). I used to think the government was just out to take away my rights (making everywhere I used to smoke illegal to smoke), but after watching family members getting lung cancer and other forms of cancer who smoked just a couple of years longer than me, I'm so happy I did quit! Now I realize that rather than the Government trying to take away my right to smoke, I'm no longer filling the pockets of greedy nicotine companies trying to put every chemical in their grasps to make it harder for me to quit smoking so that even as I'm hooked to an oxygen tank (as my Aunt was) I still feel that need to smoke a cigarette. Hope you can quit this death-trap habit.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Efficient Admin,

      I hope so. I've changed so much in my life over the last few years that I'm thinking the evil cancer sticks of doom will go next. I'm 41 now, and I want at least another good 30 years!

      Thanks again for the comment! :)

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      You will quit when the time is right. At least you are thinking about it and that is a start.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Hi Bonny!

      I've tried everything to quit, even knowing what's in them. The patches gave me a horrible allergic reaction, that was the first clue that I was allergic to latex. I also tried Chantix, and had horrible nightmares. The only thing I can do to at least slow down is to eat hard candies and smoke only outside. I reckon I will quit when the time is right.

      I'm glad you're finding success with the e-cigarettes. I've heard both good and bad, so I don't know if I want to try them or not. We roll our own smokes, so we're not getting the majority of the chemicals I talked about in this hub, but one additive is one too many!

      Thank you for the comment! :)

    • BonnyC profile image

      BonnyC 5 years ago from Georgia

      Georgie, I just wanted to thank you for this post. I think it's great to get the word out! What frustrates me is that people try the patch/gum/etc. and can't quit so they go back to smoking. They might ping pong back and forth which lines the pockets of both the pharmaceutical industries and Big Tobacco. The FDA allows this to continue and yet makes electronic cigarettes look like poison when they're no worse (as far as what's in them) than the patch and are over 100x better than cigarettes!! It all comes down to $$$ unfortunately.

      I've switched to e-cigs and I'm so happy. Not that cruddy gas station kind, either. That's just made to take more of your money than you have to spend. If you ever want to know more, I'm around obsessively checking the amount of traffic my hubs have!! :D

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Hi snakeslane, and thank you for your comment.

      I think cigarettes are kind of like hot dogs. Most people know that what goes in them is really gross, but they don't want to know the specifics. When I Googled this a few weeks ago, my jaw dropped. If a company put formaldehyde in snack foods, people would revolt.

      Thanks again for the comment!

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 5 years ago from Canada

      Hello Georgie Lowery. This is an important 'message' to get across. Yes, smoking is addictive, but it is socially acceptable (sort of). Well the governments make lots of money on taxing cigarettes anyway (same for alcohol). So, thank you for putting this page together. The thing with smoking is you don't really 'feel' the damage until it is too late because the lungs don't have the same kind of nerve endings as other parts of the body. Although I've heard also that it is never too late to give up smoking. That the healing starts right away, so don't give up! (Can you tell I smoke too?) You know what it comes down to? It costs too much. Too much money, and too big a toll on our health and well being. Keep trying, every day is a new day. Regards, snakeslane

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Whowas,

      Well, I'll be 41 in a month. So I should 'smoke 'em if I got 'em?'

      I'm finding that, the older I get, the more concerned I am about my health. When I was 21, I thought I'd live forever. Twenty years later, I'm not so sure.

      Thanks again. :)

    • profile image

      whowas 5 years ago

      Georgie, you're welcome. 40 is young, there's still time. I was 41 when I quit, so there you go, have another year and then stop.

      Okay, I'll buzz off - I'm not going to get on your case or clog up your comments section with anti-smoking sermons!

      I'll be back to read, 'though. :)

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Thank you for your comment, whowas. I got the warm and fuzzies!

      I was 14 also, when I started smoking and I'm 40 now. I'm a triple dumb smoker: I know it's bad for me, I've had asthma since I was a child and my mother passed away last September because of complications from lung cancer. Even knowing all of these things, I still can't quit. It's hard not to think of myself as a failure in that area. I always have hope, though. It's my middle name. :)

    • profile image

      whowas 5 years ago

      Thanks for your great hub, Georgie. Powerful stuff. I quit smoking three years ago and have never looked back.

      I started when I was about 14. Most of my family smoked and starting was just considered to be one of the rites of passage, a sign of growing into adulthood.

      I thought that I would never give up, could never give up. But I did. And you're clearly a bright, smart, thinking young woman. I think you will, too, when the time is right for you. You know, that time could be now?

      You're a good writer with so much to give. Can't wait to read more!

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      You are right, billybuc. And even knowing all this, I still smoke. I've quit most of my other addictions, I just can't give up the cancer sticks.

      Thank you for the comment. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Without a doubt the nastiest drug on the market...nothing else even compares as far as the amount of damage to the human body. Great hub with a very important message.