Most smokers not aware of chemicals they're inhaling

Most smokers not aware of chemicals they’re inhaling


Cigarette smoke contains as many as 4,800 chemicals and many of these chemicals are carcinogens, but a new study has revealed that a big majority of smokers don’t realize what they are inhaling.

In the study, a team of researchers analyzed data related to 5,014 American adults over the age of 18 years. The survey, which focused mainly on low-income areas which tend to have poor people with lower levels of education, found that 27.5 per cent of adults had looked for information about cigarette smoke, especially the chemicals that can cause cancer.

Of those who looked for the information, 37.2 per cent consisted of young adults from 18 to 25 years of age, while 34.3 per cent were smokers. Among those who were not smokers, 26 per cent looked for information.

The study also revealed that most of the respondents did not know what cigarette smoke consists of, while nearly 50 per cent of the respondents said they would like that information to be on cigarette packs.

Marcella Boynton, lead author of the study, concluded, “By making tobacco chemical information available to the public and tobacco industry practice more transparent, those seeking this information may be less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit…”

As per the research paper published by the study team, “There is little awareness of the chemical components of cigarette smoke amongst US adults, even though many of them report having looked for relevant information. In a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggest that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expand its messaging activities so that information about these constituents reaches all segments of the US population, especially those most vulnerable to tobacco product use and its associated health risks.”

More than a quarter of adults (27.5%) reported having looked for information on the different components of tobacco products and tobacco smoke, many of which are known to be poisonous or cause cancer. Out of these adults, 37.2% were young adults (18-25 years of age) and 34.3% were smokers. Out of non-smokers and older adults, 26% reported having looked for information on tobacco constituents. However, with the exception of nicotine, most respondents were largely unaware of which constituents are present in cigarette smoke. Over half of respondents (54.8%) indicated that they would like relevant information to be available on cigarette packs, and 28.7% would prefer to access that information online.

The research team conducted a nationally representative telephone survey among 5,014 US adults aged 18 years and over. To make sure that the sample adequately represented smokers, young adults and minority groups, the survey oversampled high smoking/low income areas and cell phone numbers, as well as groups known to have experienced mistreatment by government organizations in the past. Some of these groups, which include people living in poverty, people with lower education, and sexual minorities, are most affected by tobacco use and its associated health risks, according to the researchers.

The study was limited by its focus on tobacco constituents for which the FDA has signaled that it will require manufacturers to provide information. Given the large number of chemicals in tobacco, future research into a wider range of constituents is needed to inform efforts to regulate tobacco use and communicate its risks, according to the researchers. This could benefit the majority of US smokers (over 80%) who reported an intention to quit in this study. Additional work is also needed to monitor public response to FDA communications and changing patterns of tobacco use.

According to a story published on the topic by Medical Daily, there are some 4,800 chemicals in cigarette smoke, many of which are carcinogens – yet the majority of people who smoke don’t realize what they’re inhaling. A new study published in the journal BMC Public Health argues that making information about cigarette smoke more available to consumers could improve public health and awareness about the dangers of smoking. “The majority of the [United States] public wants easy access to information about chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products.”

The FDA lists all of the dangerous and potentially harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, at least the ones we currently know. They include acetaldehyde, ammonia, arsenic, coumarin, and various others, most of which are known to be toxic when inhaled or ingested. Research has investigated the specific known tobacco chemicals that can harm our health, but the information isn’t readily available for an average smoker to see when they pick up a pack of cigarettes. Frighteningly, since there are thousands of chemicals packed into a cigarette, it’s often hard to estimate the true extent of adverse health effects.

“An anti-smoking group behind Omaha’s indoor smoking ban passed in 2006 is commemorating the ordinance’s 10-year anniversary by calling for the ban to expand to the outdoors. The group, GASP, announced at a news conference Friday that it seeks to have smoking banned in all of Omaha’s city parks and other outdoor city property,” according to a recent SF Chronicle report.

In a written release, the group says it wants the outdoor ban “to protect children not only from breathing secondhand smoke, but from seeing people smoking or spitting tobacco, because children copy what they see adults do. The group pointed to an Iowa law that requires some outdoor events like concerts to be smoke free.


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