Cigarette Smoke (Encyclopedia of Science)
Cigarette smoke contains cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and emphysema (a serious disease of the lungs). People who smoke are also at increased risk for developing other cancers, heart disease, and chronic lung ailments. In the United States alone, cigarette smoking is responsible for almost 500,000 premature deaths per year.
Cigarette smoke is called mainstream smoke when it is inhaled directly from a cigarette. Sidestream smoke is smoke that is emitted from a burning cigarette and exhaled from a smoker's lungs. Sidestream smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke or secondhand smoke. Passive smoking, or the inhaling of secondhand smoke by nonsmokers, is believed to be responsible for about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke also have a greater chance of suffering from respiratory disorders.
Components of cigarette smoke
Over 4,000 different chemicals are present in cigarette smoke. Many of these are carcinogenic, or capable of causing changes in the genetic material of cells that can lead to cancer. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, an addictive chemical, and carcinogenic tars. In addition, smoking produces carbon monoxide, which has the effect of decreasing the amount of oxygen in the blood.
(The entire section is 626 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!