Tar: The Dangers of Smoking Are Many
Do you know what tar is? Youâ€™ve probably heard of it and you probably know that it is bad for you. Cigarette companies even admit to the dangers of tar and actively try to limit the amount of tar you inhale by adding filters and advertising low tar cigarettes as a better alternative. But once you know what tar really is, youâ€™ll realize that no amount of tar is a safe amount, and smoking always involves putting tar into the places where it does the most damage in your body.
Your Lungs are Delicate
The way your lungs work is important to understand. It will help you to see how tar affects your body and health. When you breathe in, your nose and mouth have a few filtering mechanisms to ensure that nothing too dangerous gets in. But once inside your bronchial tubes, your bronchioles, and the air sacs and lung tissue, everything gets absorbed. Oxygen is absorbed into the blood stream, and from there it is carried throughout the body to every single cell. The way oxygen is absorbed is complex, but you can think of it as if your lungs are sponge-like, with a lot of surface area and very fine spaces where air passes through. Surface area is where blood vessels are waiting to absorb the oxygen.
Anything else that you inhale will also be absorbed by the lungs and the circulatory system. Smoking increases the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood significantly, decreasing the oxygen and making all of your cells less healthy. But smoking also introduces tar, and tar has some very specific and dangerous effects on your lungs.
What is Tar?
Tar is blackish and sticky. It probably got the same because it resembles the tar that is used to patch roads and sidewalks. But tar that you inhale when smoking is different from what gets put on the road. In fact, the tar in different cigarette brands will be different. It all depends on what is in the tobacco, which additives are included, whether or not tobacco fertilizer was used to grow the tobacco, and what the effect of burning this combination of chemicals will be.
The result of burning tobacco is smoke, and the smoke is inhaled and passes through to the lungs. Tar is the sticky stuff that drops out of the smoke, particulates that clump together and form gooey stuff. The exact make-up of tar has to do with the exact make-up of tobacco and the result of burning that tobacco.
Thereâ€™s no such thing as smoking a tar-free cigarette, unless you count electronic cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and donâ€™t involve smoke. Tar is what is left behind by tobacco smoke, and it usually contains a blend of the 69 known carcinogens in tobacco as well as the thousands of chemicals we know to be unhealthy. Tar is directly linked to the likelihood of getting lung cancer, and causes or exacerbates emphysema, bronchitis, and even heart disease.