Tar in Cigarettes, Tar and Smoking, Cigarette Filters and Low Tar Cigarettes

Tar in cigarettes is the particulate matter inhaled when a smoker draws on a lighted cigarette. In solid condensate form, cigarette tar is the sticky brown substance which causes yellow-brown stains on fingers, teeth, clothes and furniture.

All cigarettes produce tar. Tar is a mixture of substances that together form a sticky mass in the lungs. If you smoke, imagine what all that tar looks like in your lungs.

Tar in Cigarettes

As a cigarette is smoked, the amount of tar in cigarettes inhaled into the lungs tends to increase. The last puff can contain more than twice as much tar as the first puff.

When cigarette smoke is breathed in it condenses and deposits cigarette tar in the lungs. It is the tar in cigarettes that actually transports many of the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes smoke directly into the body.

The effects of tar in cigarettes also paralyses the cilia, the small hairs which protect and clean the lungs. Inhaling cigarette tar leads lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases.

Cigarette Filters and Tar in Cigarettes

Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate and trap some of the cigarette tar from the inhaled smoke. Cigarette filters also cool the smoke slightly, making it easier to inhale.

Cigarette filters were added to cigarettes in the 1950s, in response to the first reports that tar in cigarettes was associated with the increased risk of lung cancer.

Tobacco companies claimed that their filtered cigarette brands had lower tar than others and encouraged consumers to believe that they were safer. However, cigarette filters do not remove enough tar to make cigarettes less dangerous.

Low Tar Cigarettes

Research indicates that the assumed health advantages of switching to low tar cigarettes may be offset by the tendency of smokers to compensate for the reduction in nicotine (cigarettes lower in tar also tend to be lower in nicotine) by smoking more or inhaling more deeply.

A study by The American Cancer Society found that smoking filtered, low tar cigarettes may be the cause of adenocarcinoma, a particular kind of lung cancer. There is no evidence that switching to low tar cigarettes reduces coronary heart disease risk.

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