7 Poisons You Consume Every Time You Smoke, and You Thought It’s Just Tobacco

June 28, 2019 Updated: June 28, 2019

Cigarette cartons look pretty grim these days, you may have noticed. Legally, they come printed with a graphic warning about the potentially dire consequences of a smoking habit. The main contenders include lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

However, there’s more to your cigarette than just pesky tobacco. Below, we’ve listed seven additional dangerous substances that you may not have been aware of. What are they, and what are they doing to your body? Information is powerful.

Illustration – Shutterstock | MarcelClemens

1. Mercury

What is it? It’s a chemical element, commonly known as “quicksilver.” Famously, it can be found in old-fashioned thermometers and tooth fillings.

Why is it dangerous? According to the EPA, mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning that it could be poisonous to nerve tissue in your body. Moderate exposure to mercury can cause headaches, hypertension, heart problems, and even behavioral changes.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Ody_Stocker

2. Carbon Monoxide

What is it? Carbon monoxide is a sneaky character; it is an odorless, colorless chemical that can cause extreme damage to the human body.

Why is it dangerous? This chemical displaces the oxygen that a person should inhale and gradually poisons the body over time. Gulp. Side effects include muscle weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, and blurred vision, while prolonged exposure can lead to heart disease.

Illustration – Shutterstock | BlurryMe

3. Hydrogen Cyanide

What is it? This component of cigarettes is a chemical asphyxiant gas.

Why is it dangerous? Hydrogen cyanide is highly toxic. It can prevent vital oxygen from reaching your body tissue and can even induce unconsciousness. Prolonged exposure can impair your heart function and breathing and can have a knock-on effect on your metabolism, vision, and your brain function.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Jes2u.photo

4. Formaldehyde

What is it? Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, naturally occurring compound. It’s actually used in a variety of household products and industrial resins.

Why is it dangerous? Formaldehyde can cause short-term health complaints like watery eyes, wheezing, and a burning sensation in the eyes and throat. Longer term, the National Toxicology Program warns that formaldehyde is a probable carcinogen; repeat exposure may lead to nose and throat cancer.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Tim Knight

5. Lead

What is it? Lead is a naturally occurring metal, but it’s not as innocuous as it looks.

Why is it dangerous? Lead poisoning is another sneaky character. The symptoms are easily confused with other and less serious afflictions, and may include tiredness, irritation, a loss of appetite, and losing focus. Prolonged exposure to lead could additionally cause high blood pressure and kidney disease. Mayo Clinic advises that lead poisoning can be fatal.

llustration – Shutterstock | mewaji

6. Ammonia

What is it? Natural ammonia is essential in the body for making proteins, and the manufactured kind is very common in household and industrial products. But inhale too much, and you’re in trouble.

Why is it dangerous? According to the New York State Department of Health, ammonia is corrosive. It can destroy your airway, causing breathing difficulties or even causing you to stop breathing altogether. Small doses can induce coughing, chest pain, and burning sensations in the throat and nose.

Illustration – Shutterstock | helfei

7. Potassium Citrate

What is it? Potassium citrate is sometimes prescribed as a supplement to assist the kidneys in getting rid of uric acid. This, in turn, helps prevent gout and kidney stones. However, there are side effects to the long-term inhalation of potassium citrate from cigarettes.

Why is it dangerous? WebMD warns that potassium citrate may cause nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, an elevated heartbeat, and even difficulty swallowing.

Illustration – Shutterstock | kittirat roekburi

This is scary stuff. Does that cigarette packet still look so appealing? Consider giving up if not for yourself then for your loved ones, because your smoke affects them too. Cigarette addiction is no laughing matter, however, and there’s certainly no shame in asking for help.

Shareably recommends that a toothpick, mints, or gum may help to alleviate troublesome cravings while you endeavor to give up the habit for good. Plus, fresh breath! If you’re a smoker and this torrent of terrifying information helps you want to give up, then good luck; you can do it.

It’s worth it.