Toxic Emissions in Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, including at least 70 carcinogens that are released whenever a tobacco product is smoked. Some of these chemicals are found naturally in the tobacco leaf, and others are created through combustion or burning.

Top 6 toxins

Exposure to these chemicals occurs whenever a tobacco product is burned.


In tobacco smoke, tar is a sticky, black residue containing hundreds of chemicals, many of which are considered carcinogenic. They include polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), aromatic amines and inorganic compounds.


Nicotine occurs naturally in tobacco plants and is primarily responsible for causing the addiction to tobacco products. It harms your cardiovascular and endocrine systems.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is in tobacco smoke as a result of burning tobacco. It reduces the ability of your red blood cells to deliver oxygen to tissues, causing the greatest potential damage to the heart, brain and skeletal muscles -- tissues that have the most demand for oxygen. You're probably also familiar with the potentially fatal effects on people who breathe this colourless, odourless gas also found in automobile exhaust.


Formaldehyde is classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen. It is registered in Canada as a pesticide. Its health effects can be drastic on smokers and those exposed to tobacco smoke. Eye, nose and throat irritations and other breathing problems are just some of the symptoms.

Hydrogen cyanide

This is considered one of the most toxic agents found in tobacco smoke. Many short and long-term toxic effects of cigarette smoke have been associated with hydrogen cyanide. Frequent exposure to lower concentrations will cause weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing and eye and skin irritation.


Declared toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, benzene is believed to harm you at any level of exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer describes it as a Group 1 carcinogen.

"Toxic" means these substances are potentially poisonous for tobacco users, smokers and non-smokers. The following diseases or conditions can be related to tobacco use:

Smoking is also related to infertility, sudden infant death syndrome and infant health problems.

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