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Health Concerns

Toxic Emissions Statements

Whenever a tobacco product is burned, people are exposed to these chemicals, either directly through smoking or through exposure to second-hand smoke.

Facts

Cancer Causing Chemicals

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including at least 70 known carcinogens (chemicals that cause, initiate or promote cancer).Footnote 1,Footnote 2a Many of these same chemicals are present in second-hand smoke.Footnote 3 Repeated exposure to carcinogens increases the risk of developing cancer.Footnote 4,Footnote 5

For more information, visit our fact sheet on carcinogens in tobacco smoke.

Benzene

Benzene is one of the many chemicals present in tobacco smoke.Footnote 6a,Footnote 7 Benzene is an organic chemical compound that has been declared toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.Footnote 8 The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies benzene as carcinogenic to humans.Footnote 9

For more information, visit our fact sheet on carcinogens in tobacco smoke.

Fine Particles

Tobacco smoke is a major source of indoor air pollution, where a smoker resides, and comprises a complex mixture of chemicals in the form of gases and particles.Footnote 2b,Footnote 10 Tobacco smoke particles are very small and can enter deep into the lungs. These fine particles contain many carcinogenic chemicals such as tobacco specific nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as well as many heavy metals.Footnote 11 When inhaled, these fine particles can enter deep into the respiratory system, increasing the risk of severe health effects including worsening of asthma symptoms, decreased lung function, infection and inflammation of the lungs, and the increased risk of mortality from lung cancer.Footnote 12,Footnote 16

Hydrogen Cyanide

Hydrogen cyanide is one of the many chemicals present in tobacco smoke.Footnote 6b,Footnote 17 Hydrogen cyanide interferes with the use of oxygen in the body and may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.Footnote 18

References

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Rodgman, A., Perfetti, T.A. The chemical components of tobacco and tobacco smoke. (2009). CRC press, Florida, USA. ISBN 978-1-4200-7883-1.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Hecht SS. Research Opportunities Related to Establishing Standards for Tobacco Products Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Nicotine & Tobacco Research [http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/] Commentary [accepted November 25, 2010]. Web Published 2011 January;10.1093/ntr/ntq216. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/01/09/ntr.ntq216.full.pdf

Return to footnote 2a referrer, Return to footnote 2b referrer

Footnote 3

U.S. Department of Health and Human services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2006. Ch.2, p.45. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/index.html

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: a Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2004/pdfs/chapter2.pdf

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity to Humans. Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans. 2009. Available from: Le lien suivant vous amnera  un autre site Web http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/crthgr01.php

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

Talhout R et al. Hazardous Compounds in Tobacco Smoke. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2011;8:613-628.

Return to footnote 6a referrer, Return to footnote 6b referrer

Footnote 7

Wallace L. Major Sources of Exposure to Benzene and Other Volatile Organic Chemicals. Risk Analysis 1990;10:59-64.

Return to footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

Department of Justice Canada [www.justice.gc.ca] Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 [accessed January 28, 2011] Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/c-15.31/

Return to footnote 8 referrer

Footnote 9

International agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs, Volume 100F, A Review of Human Carcinogens [accessed on January 28, 2011]. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/suppl7/Suppl7-24.pdf

Return to footnote 9 referrer

Footnote 10

Ott W.R., Klepeis N.E. and Switzer P. Analytical solutions to compartmental indoor air quality models with application to environmental tobacco smoke concentrations measured in a house. Journal of Air and Waste Management Association 2003, 53:918-936.

Return to footnote 10 referrer

Footnote 11

Gee I.L., Watson A.F.R., Tavernier G., Stewart L.J. Fletcher G. and Niven R.M. Indoor air quality, environmental tobacco smoke and asthma: A case control study of Asthma in a community population. Indoor and Built Environment 2005, 14:215-219.

Return to footnote 11 referrer

Footnote 12

Daly, B.-J., Schmid, K., Riediker, M. Contribution of fine particulate matter sources to indoor exposure in bars, restaurants, and cafes. Indoor Air 2010, 20:204-212.

Return to footnote 12 referrer

Footnote 13

Pope III, C.A., and Dockery, D.W. Health effects of fine particulate air pollution: lines that connect. Journal of Air and Waste Management Association. 2006, 56:709-742.

Return to footnote 13 referrer

Footnote 14

Valavanidis, A., Fiotakis, K., Vlachogianni, T. Airborne particulate matter and human health: Toxicological assessment and importance of size and composition of particles for oxidative damage and carcinogenic mechanisms. Journal of Environmental Science and Health - Part C Environmental Carcinogenesis and Ecotoxicology Reviews 2008, 26:339-362.

Return to footnote 14 referrer

Footnote 15

Eftim, S.E., Samet, J.M., Janes, H., McDermott, A., Dominici, F. Fine particulate matter and mortality: A comparison of the Six Cities and American Cancer Society cohorts with a medicare cohort. Epidemiology, 2008;19:209-216

Return to footnote 15 referrer

Footnote 16

Pope III, C.A., Burnett, R.T., Thun, M.J., Calle, E.E., Krewski, D., Ito, K., Thurston, G.D. Lung cancer, cardiopulmonary mortality, and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002, 287:1132-1141

Return to footnote 16 referrer

Footnote 17

Brunnemann KD, Yu L, Hoffmann D. Chemical Studies on Tobacco Smoke. XLIX. Gas Chromatographic Determination of Hydrogen Cyanide and Cyanogen in Tobacco smoke. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 1977;1:38-42.

Return to footnote 17 referrer

Footnote 18

Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry. Atlanta, GA: Medical Management Guidelines for Hydrogen Cyanide [accessed January 28, 2011] Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mmg/mmg.asp?id=1073&tid=19

Return to footnote 18 referrer