What We Weren’t Told About Smoking

Today, facts about toxic chemicals and agricultural additives in cigarettes and tobacco products have never been more clearer. If I had known this information around the time I started smoking, I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t have taken it up.

According to Quit Smoking there are around 4000 chemicals in cigarettes of which some are agricultural chemicals and additives, ammonia, metals and radioactive compounds. Some of these are in the tobacco and others in the paper of the cigarette.  Most of these are known to be carcinogenic – cancer causing chemicals.

In an attempt to enhance the flavour of cigarettes, sweeteners like honey and sugar are added which may be harmless when ingested, but when burned their chemical compounds change to become harmful substances.

When the smoke is inhaled it travels into the lungs and then passes into the bloodstream. The heart pumps the harmful chemicals around in the body through vital organs and into the brain.

Public Disclosure of Additives by Tobacco Companies

Since 2000 there’s been a voluntary agreement between the Commonwealth and the tobacco makers to disclose elements contained in Australian cigarettes.

These disclosures include

  1. Composite disclosures of the many ingredients that the organisations say they possibly utilise.
  2. There are composite disclosures listing major ingredients by weight and brand.

Not Disclosed

The industry did not reveal the majority of the added substances used as a part of specific brands since that would mean surrendering prized formulas and trade secrets that they say would cause them to lose the competitive upper hand.

The take away – While there’s enough evidence that cigarette smoking is harmful to our mental and physical health, there’s no way for consumers to actually know all of the ingredients and the levels added for each brand.

Smoking Related Illnesses

Cancer – in the mouth, Lungs, bowel, nose, kidney, liver, bladder, throat, esophagus, pancreas, ovary, cervix, stomach and bone marrow.

Heart Disease – Heart attack and stroke.

Poor Blood Circulation – a painful condition can develop due to poor circulation in the hands and feet leading to gangrene and amputation in more severe cases.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Is Smoking Declining In Australia?

According to the Cancer Council in 1997 24% of the NSW adult population were smokers.  The percentage decreased to 14.7% by 2011.  Figures taken from the The Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in June 2011 the NSW population reached 7.5 Million people, of which 1.36 million were children leaving the remaining 6.14 million adult population of which 902,580 were smokers.

These figures show that people are becoming more health conscious, but despite the general public being warned through the Australian Government’s anti-smoking campaigns about the health risks and dangers of smoking, the number of smokers continued to remain high.

Did you know?

According to The Department Of Health as of 1 December 2012, Australian law requires “health warnings to cover at least 75 per cent of the front of most tobacco packaging, 90 per cent of the back of cigarette packaging and 75 per cent of the back of most other tobacco product packaging.”

Their objectives include discouraging others to use tobacco products by increasing the effectiveness of health warnings to reduce the chances of retail packaging to mislead consumers about the harmful effects that tobacco products.

In an attempt to protect their investment, US Tobacco firm, Phillip Morris sued the Australian government, losing  the high court battle. According to AFITNET, Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network was quoted as saying, “We welcome the High Court decision as a vindication of the Government’s right to regulate tobacco as an addictive substance that still kills 15,000 Australians per year.”

My story

I’m pretty certain that if in 1982, the information about the health risks involved with smoking had reached me, it could have prevented a 20 year long habit.

Immediately after learning about the dangers of smoking I felt an urgency to quit believing that it was insane for me to continue with this habit.   However, it wasn’t that easy, taking several attempts over a six year span before actually succeeding.

Why would anyone want to start smoking?

References and Resources

The Australian Government – The Introduction Of Plain Packaging Legislation

Smarter Than Smoking is an educational Anti-smoking website providing resources to parents, teachers, children and youth with information on facts, statistics on cigarettes and tobacco products, E-cigarettes and more.

QUIT – Reasons to Quit – Health Risks of Smoking


QUIT NOW – http://www.quitnow.gov.au/

ABS – http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3235.0~2011~Main+Features~New+South+Wales?OpenDocument#PARALINK0

by Sandra Ciminelli