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What's in Tobacco Smoke?
December 26, 2016, 1:08 pm

Surveys of adults and teens suggest that many people have little understanding of the dangerous substances lurking in cigarette smoke.

For instance, with tobacco companies advertising ‘additive-free’ brands, it is no surprise that over half of the respondents (57.5%) of a recent survey wrongly believed that additives produce the most hazardous chemicals in smoke.

Researchers behind the survey asked questions of just over 1,100 teens and 5,000 adults in phone surveys, and conducted an additional online poll of about 4,100 adults. The surveys asked about the role of filters and about the contents of cigarette smoke.

The researchers found that 27.5 percent of adults and the same percent of teens who participated in the survey believe that filters keep all harmful chemicals out of cigarette smoke.

But, according to experts, "filters do not protect you. They are designed to make smoke particles smaller. That makes nicotine easier to absorb. This increases addiction."

In addition, 66.5 percent of adults and 43 percent of teens said additives are responsible for the most harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke. But the researchers said that is also not true.

"The harmfulness in cigarettes comes from burning them. It's not the paper or filter, it's not the additives. And it's not even the nicotine, unless you're pregnant or a kid. Burning cigarettes creates new and dangerous chemicals and concentrates others. For the most part, additives do not appear to be the main or even an important source of harm," the researchers said.

So why might people think additives — which can include things like sugar, ammonia and flavorings — are the source of dangerous chemicals; because, advertisements have been reiterating this message for many years, as companies tried to sell their ‘additive-free’ brands. 

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