We are often told that tar in cigarettes is harmful, but why? Watch to discover the impact of cigarettes…

What is tar?

When tobacco is burned it creates a toxic smoke; tar is a part of this smoke. It is a sticky black chemical substance that can gather inside the lungs and lead to lung cancer, emphysema and other lung problems.

Why is it damaging?

Tar starts its damaging work in the mouth by rotting and blackening teeth, damaging gums, and desensitizing taste buds. It forms a tacky brown or yellow residue on the inside of the lungs. It damages the cilia (which help to keep our airways clean) allowing all toxins to travel freely into the lungs causing many problems (lung cancer, emphysema, or other lung diseases).

The level of tar increases as the item is burnt down. As a consequence, the last puffs on a cigarette can contain as much as twice the amount as the first puffs. The tobacco industry deliberately promotes low tar cigarettes to offer false ‘health reassurance’. However, despite officially declared tar levels of 1-5 mg compared to 12 mg for conventional cigarettes, a smoker switching to low tar brands is likely to take in about the same tar as regular cigarettes. In short, there are no significant health benefits of low tar cigarettes compared to conventional cigarettes. Therefore the best way to reduce the build up of tar on your lungs is to switch to a safer alternative or quit smoking altogether.

Are there safer alternatives?

Electronic cigarettes have been shown to be less harmful than regular cigarettes. This is because they don’t contain tobacco and don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide.

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End your inhalation of the dangerous chemical by joining our free Be Smoke Free service, where you will be supported to quit smoking. Our smoking cessation coaches will help you determine which quit aid is most suitable. After that, they will  provide free advice and support throughout your quit.


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