93 Toxic Components in Cigarette Smoke

93 Toxic Components in Cigarette Smoke93 Toxic Components in Cigarette Smoke

Most people in a recent study said they were not familiar with components in cigarette smoke other than nicotine.

Surveyed by phone, more than half the respondents said they’d like to see this information on cigarette packs and a quarter would like to have access to it online.

Of the 7,000 constituents of cigarette smoke, 93 in particular are quite toxic, said Dr. Kurt M. Ribisl of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“It’s pretty surprising how relatively few people have heard of these yet many were interested in hearing more about them,” Ribisl told Reuters Health by phone.

The most simple and effective messaging may be to list the chemicals and, briefly, their health effects, he said. For example, cigarette smoke contains arsenic, which causes heart damage, and formaldehyde, which causes throat cancer.

Ribisl and colleagues surveyed nearly 5,000 US adults by phone, targeting high smoking/ low income areas.

Almost a quarter of respondents reported being smokers, most saying they had smoked every day for the past month.

More than a quarter of respondents said they had looked for information on the constituents of tobacco smoke, most commonly young adults and smokers. More than half said they would most prefer to see this information on cigarette packs.

Only 8% knew that at least three of the four chemicals they were asked about are present in cigarette smoke, researchers reported.

“Many people seek information on smoke components but not many find it,” said Dr. Reinskje Talhout of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment at the Center for Health Protection in The Netherlands.

“Here they also seek it but in general don’t understand it very well, so we developed fact sheets for the general public,” Talhout told Reuters.

Having this information may help smokers make an informed decision, but there is no evidence yet on how it may change smoking behavior.

“If people hear about these components they are quite shocked,” she said.

 “One of the things I would like the FDA and others to think about is what they can put on the side of the cigarette pack, what kind of message can we put there to help create informed smokers,” Ribisl  said.