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Why do the tobacco companies
add all this junk to cigarettes?

Lowell Kleinman, M.D., and Deborah Messina-Kleinman, M.P.H.
drkoop.com Health Columnists

Cigarette flavors have gone through many changes since cigarettes were first made. Initially, cigarettes were unfiltered, allowing the full "flavor" of the tar to come through. As the public became concerned about the health effects of smoking, filters were added. While this helped alleviate the public's fears, the result was a cigarette that tasted too bitter.

Filters Don't Work
Filters do not remove enough tar to make cigarettes less dangerous. They are just a marketing ploy to trick you into thinking you are smoking a safer cigarette.

The solution to the bitter-tasting cigarette was easy -- have some chemists add taste-improving chemicals to the tobacco. Unfortunately, some of these chemicals also cause cancer.

But not all of the chemicals in your cigarettes are there for taste enhancement. For example, a chemical very similar to rocket fuel helps keep the tip of the cigarette burning at an extremely hot temperature. This allows the nicotine in tobacco to turn into a vapor so your lungs can absorb it more easily.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner?
Most people prefer to use ammonia for things such as cleaning windows and toilet bowls. You may be surprised to learn that the tobacco industry has found some additional uses for this household product. By adding ammonia to your cigarettes, nicotine in its vapor form can be absorbed through your lungs more quickly. This, in turn, means your brain can get a higher dose of nicotine with each puff.

The complete list of chemicals added to your cigarettes is too long to list here. Here are some examples that will surprise you:
bulletFungicides and pesticides -- Cause many types of cancers and birth defects.
bulletCadmium -- Linked to lung and prostate cancer.
bulletBenzene -- Linked to leukemia.
bulletFormaldehyde -- Linked to lung cancer.
bulletNickel -- Causes increased susceptibility to lung infections.

If you are angry that so many things have been added to the cigarettes you enjoy so much, you should be. Many of these chemicals were added to make you better able to tolerate toxic amounts of cigarette smoke. They were added without regard to your health and with the intent to keep you addicted. As the tobacco industry saying goes, "An addicted customer is a customer for life, no matter how short that life is."

Make sure that you have the last laugh. Regardless of the countless chemicals in your cigarettes, quitting is always your option.