Tobacco Facts and Information
This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:06 PM
Smoking and Health Facts
- Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness in Ontario.
- Every year there are 13,000 tobacco-related deaths in Ontario. That is 36 per day.
- Smoking is linked to cancers of the lungs, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, cervix, kidney, pancreas, stomach and bladder.
- In 2004, a report by Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona found smoking causes disease in nearly every organ in the body.
- Tobacco-related diseases cost Ontario $1.6 billion in direct health care costs and $4.4 billion in lost productivity per year or about $502 per capita. (The costs of Substance Abuse in Canada, 2002)
A Deadly Addiction
- Nicotine is an addictive drug found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. It can make you feel relaxed or stimulated depending on how much nicotine is in your body.
- When a cigarette is smoked, the effects are felt in less than 10 seconds, and last only minutes.
- Smokers and other tobacco users have a physical need to keep using tobacco to get the same effects every day.
- Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco can be as addictive as heroin and cocaine.
- Each year, an estimated 21 Lambton County residents are among the 5,000 Canadians who lose their lives to tobacco-related illness as a result of second-hand smoke exposure.
- Second-hand smoke or Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is the most common type of indoor air pollution. It comes from two (2) sources:
- Mainstream smoke - smoke inhaled and exhaled by the active smoker
- Sidestream smoke - emitted directly into the air from the lit end of a tobacco product
- There is no safe level of second-hand smoke, which means, breathing any amount is harmful
- Second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer by 40%-60% for people who never smoked but were exposed to ETS in the workplace and outside the home.
- Children, especially infants, who breathe second-hand smoke get more ear infections, colds, bronchitis and asthma.
- Pregnant women exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to have miscarriages, stillborn or low, birth weight babies.
- Third-hand smoke refers to chemicals that remain on surfaces and in dust after tobacco has been smoked, and can persist for long after a cigarette is extinguished.
- These pollutants are returned to the surrounding air or they react with oxidants and other compounds in the environment to yield secondary toxins. Some of these pollutants are toxic for human health.
- There are hundreds of chemicals in a cigarette. Here is a list of some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke.
- Acetone – found in nail polish remover
- Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
- Ammonia – a common household cleaner
- Arsenic – used in rat poison
- Benzene – found in rubber cement
- Butane – used in lighter fluid
- Cadmium – active component in battery acid
- Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
- Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
- Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
- Lead – used in batteries
- Naphthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
- Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
- Nicotine – used as insecticide
- Tar – material for paving roads
- Toluene - used to manufacture paint
Pipes, Cigars, and Cigarillos
- Pipes and cigars contain as many cancer causing chemicals as cigarettes.
- Research has shown that cigars contain more tobacco than a cigarette. They also have a higher level of toxic and cancer causing chemicals.
- Cigars are made of one type of tobacco and a tobacco wrapper. They vary in size and shape and contain between 1 gram and 20 grams of tobacco (a typical cigarette contains 1 gram of tobacco).
- Cigarillos are smaller versions of cigars. Cigarillos are similar to the size of cigarettes but are different because they are rolled in tobacco leaves instead of paper. They come in many different flavours and are packaged to look like candy or lipstick.
Chew and Snus
- Chewing tobacco and snuff are addictive, and are NOT a safe alternative to smoking.
- Using chewing tobacco or snuff leads to receding gums, wear and tear on tooth enamel, tooth decay and stained teeth
- Smokeless tobacco decreases sense of taste; limits sense of smell
- Long-time tobacco chewers and snuff dippers increase their risk of cancer of the cheek and gum by as much as 50%
- Smokeless tobacco is often popular among athletes.
- An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device made of stainless steel or plastic that mimics a cigarette in terms of appearance and taste. There are usually three parts to an e-cigarette, an atomizer that contains the heating element, a battery, and a cartridge.
- Health and safety risks of e-cigarettes are unknown.
- Health Canada advises Canadians not to purchase or use electronic smoking products, as they may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada.
- It is illegal for e-cigarettes with nicotine to be imported, marketed, sold and to make health claims in Canada.
Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport, Helping Smoking, January 19, 2011 10:00 AM; McGuinty Government Takes Steps To Reduce Costs Of Tobacco-Related Disease; http://news.ontario.ca/mhp/en/2011/01/helping-more-ontarians-quit-smoking.html
Building On Our Gains, Taking Action Now: Ontario’s Tobacco Control Strategy for 2011 - 2016; Report from the Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group
to the Minister of Health Promotion and Sport. October 18, 2010; http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/en/smoke-free/TSAG%20Report.pdf
100% Smoke-Free Lambton - Technical Report; County of Lambton Lambton Public Health; June 18, 2003
American Lung Association. (2013). What’s in a Cigarette? Retrieved from
Health Canada. (2009). Archived Health Canada Advises Canadians Not to Use Electronic Cigarettes. Retrieved from
National Cancer Institute. (2010). Cigar Smoking and Cancer. Retrieved from