NEWS

One fag, and 4,000 toxins

There are 4,000 harmful substances in cigarette smoke. If smokers who go through 20 cigarettes a day take 10 drags of each cigarette, they are, in effect, taking 73,000 drags of dangerous, carcinogenic and toxic substances that destroy their lungs each year. Tobacco manufacturers, moreover, are obliged by law to have a clear warning printed on every packet of cigarettes informing buyers of the hazards to their health. But people continue to smoke and many of them are already sick with some smoking-related illness. The reason is nicotine, a substance more addictive than heroin, cocaine and alcohol. Even though non-smokers and former smokers are vocal about the harmful effects of tobacco and advocate a ban on cigarettes, smokers seem to remain unswayed in their habit, despite the fact that studies show many want to quit or at least know that they ought to quit, but cannot. Another aspect is the fact that tobacco manufacturers know the effects of nicotine on the human body very well. Indeed, they use it so they can keep their customers, the smokers, «satisfied» (i.e., hooked on smoking). Nicotine causes a sharp rise in dopamine levels in parts of the brain, giving the smoker a sense of relaxation and euphoria. Tobacco manufacturers’ main objective is achieving the most effective and rapid release of nicotine, for which they use a number of chemicals. The list of the ingredients used to make cigarettes and the substances used in processing tobacco is long. Toxic substances, such as asphyxiating carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, crotonaldehyde, hydrazine, arsenic and nickel are just some of them. A 20-cigarette-a-day smoker takes in over 400 times more nicotine than the body is thought to be able to tolerate, 50 times more carbon monoxide and eight times more arsenic. More information on the substances contained in cigarettes is available on the website www.ash.org. The sad fact, however, is that most smokers will not give up even after reading the information available.