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News: Where do the toxic chemicals in cigarettes come from?

From plant to product to puff—where do toxic chemicals in cigarettes come from?

With more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke—over 70 of which are linked to cancer—it comes as no surprise that cigarettes contain harmful chemicals that cause death and disease. But where do these toxic chemicals come from? And why are there so many?

Today, the FDA is announcing a series of videos and new web content to help consumers understand more about these chemicals, described in three stages “from plant to product to puff.” Learn more by clicking on the images below to watch the videos.

Part 1: Chemicals in Every Tobacco Plant

The first video explains how harmful chemicals end up in the tobacco plant itself. For example, cadmium and lead—both heavy metals—are often found in the soil where tobacco plants are grown and can make their way into the plant during this growth stage.

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Part 2: Chemicals in Every Cigarette

The next video highlights how some toxic chemicals make their way into cigarettes as they are manufactured. Some of the harmful chemicals occur naturally as tobacco is prepared for use, including tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are cancer-causing chemicals (better known as carcinogens). Additionally, manufacturers may use additives to enhance the flavor and reduce the harshness of tobacco products.

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Part 3: Chemicals in Every Puff of Cigarette Smoke

The last video explores the dangerous chemicals that are created when “lighting up.” An unlit cigarette contains many toxic chemicals, and introducing fire only adds more to the mix. For example, benzene and carbon monoxide are produced during this stage.

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Thanks for watching!

The Center for Tobacco Products Team