What is Smoking? Definition

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Smoking is “The action or habit of inhaling and exhaling the smoke of tobacco or a drug”.

It is mostly the tobacco form that is smoked and colloquially referred to as “smoking”. The burning tobacco is inhaled and encased in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. It is a risky habit because of its addictive nature and is responsible for the deaths of more than 4oo,ooo Americans every year.

What is cigarette smoke?

Cigarette smoke is the smoke that is inhaled from a lit cigarette by the smoker. It is different from secondhand smoke, which a non-smoker inhales when in the company of a smoker.

Cigarette smoke contents are nothing but very toxic. There is absolutely no argument that allows a person to smoke. This is because the tobacco smoke inhaled from a lit cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals, every one of which is toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic.

Mutagenic toxins cause adverse DNA changes in your genes, while carcinogenic toxins cause cancer.

To make matters worse, smoking is very addictive and though not impossible, is very difficult to leave.  Tobacco smoke or cigarette smoke is 10,000 times more concentrated with pollutants than automobile pollution during rush hour on the freeway.

Many people believe that smoking a cigar is safer than smoking a cigarette.  But, the fact remains that one cigar contains as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes.

Cigar smokers usually do not inhale but second-hand smoke from a cigar is enough to do much damage. Cigar smoke is more concentrated with toxins than smoke from a cigarette.

Contents of Cigarette Smoke

(Arranged alphabetically)

Acetone                     Cyanide
Aluminum                 DDT/Dieldrin
Ammonia                  Ethenol
Arsenic                      Formaldehyde
Benzene                    Hydrogen cyanide
Butane                       Lead
Cadmium                  Methanol
Carbon monoxide     Nicotine
Carbon dioxide         Tar
Chloroform               Vinyl Chloride

All the contents of cigarette smoke produce damage but the most damaging are tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. Many countries have made it mandatory to measure and display the amount of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide in every cigarette.

Tar in cigarette smoke

Tar is easily the most destructive component of smoke from cigarettes. It is referred to as the particulate matter in cigarette smoke. Or you could call it a condensed form of tobacco smoke or cigarette smoke.

When the smoke from cigarettes is inhaled, the tar in the smoke stays in the lungs as a grayish-black sticky substance.

Effects of tar:

  • Damages the teeth and gives the teeth a brownish-black color.
  • Damages the gums in the mouth.
  • Alters the taste buds and makes them less sensitive to taste.
  • Tar has an adverse effect on vision.
  • In the lungs, tar damages the cilia, thereby increasing your risk of bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer. Cilia form the lining of the airways in the lungs and are responsible for keeping the airways clear by their sweeping action.

Nicotine in cigarette smoke

Nicotine is a chemical, which naturally occurs in tobacco smoke. When a cigarette is lit, nicotine is naturally converted into smoke and inhaled.

In small doses, nicotine is a stimulant of the brain while in larger doses, it is a depressant. It is nicotine, which makes cigarette smoking addictive.

Its addictive action is due to the fact that it causes the brain to release dopamine, which gives a pleasurable feeling to the smoker.

Carbon Monoxide in cigarette smoke

Cigarette smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, and odorless gas, which is produced due to the incomplete burning of carbon-containing fuels.

When the smoke from cigarettes is inhaled, the carbon monoxide in the smoke is rapidly absorbed into the blood through the lungs. It binds with the hemoglobin in the blood and forms a combination with it called carboxyhemoglobin(COHb).

Carbon monoxide is 200 times more effective than oxygen in binding with hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen from the air that we breathe to the various parts of the body for nutrition.

As hemoglobin in a smoker carries CO, the heart, therefore, has to work harder to keep up with the oxygen requirement of the body. This produces a strain on the heart and results in an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as angina and heart attack. Carbon monoxide concentration in the blood of a smoker is ten times higher than in a nonsmoker.


Cigarette smoke or tobacco smoke has contents, which are toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic. Smoke from cigarettes is not only poisonous, but it even alters the DNA structure of your genes and is also an established carcinogen making a smoker a potential candidate for various types of cancers.

Quote:  The safest cigarette is your last one.