Tobacco smoke contains nearly 4,000 different chemicals, many of which are poisonous, and some that are known carcinogens. The three main components are:
- Nicotine: This highly addictive chemical increases the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as affects mood and behavior. Believe it or not, nicotine is also used as an insecticide.
- Tar: This component contains many substances known to cause cancer. Additionally, it is known to cause damage in the lungs.
- Carbon monoxide: This gas takes the place of oxygen in the blood, which in turn makes the lungs less efficient. It also stops cells and tissues from getting the oxygen they need to work properly. This same poisonous gas is found in a car's exhaust fumes.
A few of the other harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke include: benzene, ethanol, ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. So when you inhale the smoke from a cigarette you may also be getting a dose of chemicals found in anti-freeze, embalming fluid, nail polish remover, rat poison or even a toilet cleaner.
It's not bad enough that the person actually doing the smoking is getting this concoction of harmful chemicals when they decide to light up. If you happen to be within range of their smoke, you are also breathing in this cockamamie cocktail of pollutants, and the consequences to your health can be significant.
A recent report claims that women exposed to secondhand smoke may have up to a 90 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer. The children of parents who smoke are more likely to suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, asthma and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It is even felt that mothers who smoke and breastfeed may pass harmful chemicals from nicotine to their baby through their breast milk.
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