There are over 4,000 chemicals in a single cigarette, some of which are highly poisonous. Examples include:
naphthalene, which is used in moth repellent;
acetone, the main component of nail polish remover;
butane, a constituent of lighter fluid;
formaldehyde, used in embalming;
nicotine, a highly addictive stimulant that causes physical and psychological dependency.
The two most serious health effects of smoking are cancer and emphysema.
Smoking has been linked to 11 forms of cancer, including cancer of the oesophagus, mouth, pancreas, bladder, and kidney.
Emphysema is a chronic disease that destroys parts of the lungs and results in shortness of breath, hyperventilation, and asthma-like attacks.
Another common health effect of smoking is coronary artery disease. It reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart, increases blood clotting and blood pressure, and increases cholesterol level.
Other possible side effects of smoking include cataracts, reduced fertility, a higher risk of stroke, peptic ulcers, and back pain. Pregnant women who smoke are at risk for miscarriages, premature labour, and ectopic pregnancy. Babies born to mothers who use tobacco have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and behavioral problems later in life.