Tobacco Ingredients

Ingredients in Cigarettes & Tobacco Products

There are more than 600 ingredients that go into making a tobacco product like cigarettes. When tobacco is burned, it produces more than 7,000 chemicals in its smoke. Among all of these substances, several hundred are toxic and about 70 cause cancer. But don’t be fooled into thinking that smokeless products like chewing tobacco are safe—they lead to cancer and other diseases too.

Major Ingredients


  • The tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum, is a member of the nightshade plant family that includes potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers.
  • There are many different varieties of tobacco and it is grown in countries around the world.

Watch: Tobacco & Your Brain


  • Nicotine does not cause cancer, but it is a highly addictive drug that occurs naturally in the tobacco plant. (All tobacco products contain nicotine.)
  • Studies have found it to be just as addictive as heroin, and in fact, nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the U.S.

Watch: Nicotine & Addiction

Chemicals in Tobacco Smoke

Cancer-Causing Chemicals

  • Tar: Sticky substance that settles in your lungs. It’s also used to pave roads.
  • Formaldehyde: Used to embalm dead bodies.
  • Benzene: Found in gasoline.
  • Polonium 210: Radioactive and very toxic.
  • Vinyl chloride: Used to make pipes.

Toxic Metals

  • Chromium: Used to make steel.
  • Arsenic: Used in pesticides.
  • Lead: Once used in paint.
  • Cadmium: Used to make batteries.

Poisonous Gases

  • Carbon monoxide: Found in car exhaust fumes and increases your risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Hydrogen cyanide: Used in chemical weapons.
  • Ammonia: Used in household cleaners.
  • Butane: Used in lighter fluid.
  • Toluene: Found in paint thinners.

Source: CDC

Find out the short-term and long-term impact these dangerous ingredients can have on your health.

More About Tobacco

Health Effects |  Forms of Tobacco | Tobacco Ingredients

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