Joe Smirkin It ain't cool - most kids don't smoke, Don't be in the minority - join us! Tasha Smirkin

What's in a cigarette?
The chemicals

Around sixty of the chemicals in cigarettes have been shown to cause cancer. Many others are irritants. The three main active chemicals are carbon monoxide, nicotine and tar.


Carbon Monoxide

Most commonly recognised as car exhaust fumes, this poisonous gas stops the body getting the oxygen it needs. It also thickens the blood so the heart has to work harder to pump the blood around the body. Heavy smokers may have the ability to carry blood oxygen cut by as much as 15%.


A pesticide and very addictive chemical which acts on the brain within seconds of inhaling cigarette smoke. Nicotine increases the heart rate and blood pressure which means that the heart isn't getting enough oxygen.


A sticky mix of brown chemicals, the tar in cigarettes can cause cancer and damages the lungs (even the low-tar brands). Tar also leaves the yellow-brown stains on smokers' fingers and teeth.

Arsenic that's rat poison

These are the main chemicals in a cigarette along with many other 'household names', including:

  • Benzene (petrol)
  • Ammonia (cleaning agent)
  • Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
  • Hydrogen cyanide (poison used in the gas chambers)
  • Acetone (nail varnish remover)
  • Radon (radioactive gas)
  • Arsenic (rat poison)

Please refer to the Ash website for more information

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