As nicotine in cigarettes continues to result in widespread smoking, many smokers are not fully aware of the mixture of toxic and hazardous materials contained in cigarettes. And that is by design! In this article, we will discuss the toxic and hazardous chemicals found in cigarette smoke and how the Tobacco Industry fought to cover up the dangers of cigarettes.
Chemical Contents of Cigarette Smoke
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths yearly. Cigarettes are designed to addict smokers in their teenage years and keep them smoking. This results in the smoker being put at grave risk of disease and death, but also those around them. Secondhand smoke is responsible for numerous health problems in adults and children, including lung cancer, respiratory infections, and heart disease. Take a look at just some of the chemicals in cigarette smoke and where they can also be found.
- Carbon Monoxide - Odorless and colorless gas commonly found in vehicle combustion fumes.
- Nicotine - Widely used as an insecticide.
- Arsenic - Used in pesticides and car batteries.
- Hydrogen Cyanide - Frequently used as a poison during WW1 and WW2 (Zyklon B).
- Acetone - Commonly used in nail polishes, varnish remover and paint remover.
- Ammonia - Used in fertilizers and chemical cleaners.
- Butane - Highly flammable gas used for lighter fluid.
- Cadmium - Used in batteries and nuclear reactors.
- Phenol - Commonly found in disinfectants and antiseptics.
- Naphthalene - Can be found in mothballs and leather tanning agents.
- Formaldehyde - Frequently used in the embalming process.
Big Tobacco's Lies about Chemicals in Cigarettes
For years, Big Tobacco companies denied the existence of harmful chemicals in cigarettes. In 1954, executives from various tobacco companies met in New York City to discuss ways to downplay concerns about smoking and health. They created an organization called the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) in 1958 to "dispel unwarranted fears about smoking through corrective statements…and scientific research." The TIRC was nothing more than a front for tobacco companies; its true purpose was to mislead the public about the dangers of smoking.
As part of its efforts to downplay the dangers of smoking, Big Tobacco companies also conducted extensive research on nicotine addiction. This research was designed not to find ways to help smokers quit but rather to figure out how to make cigarettes more addictive. In other words, these companies were actively looking for ways to keep people hooked on cigarettes—and they were successful. Thanks to their efforts, cigarettes became even more addictive over time.
United States V. Philip Morris
In 1999, the Department of Justice filed a civil suit against several tobacco companies, including Philip Morris. The DOJ accused the companies of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by engaging in a decades-long conspiracy to deceive Americans about the risks of smoking cigarettes. The DOJ alleged that the company had knowledge of the health risks of smoking as early as the 1950s but concealed that information from the public. The DOJ also accused Philip Morris of targeting children in its marketing efforts and making false claims about "light" and "low tar" cigarettes.
The case was decided in 2006 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, holding tobacco companies liable for their deceptive practices.
How Levy Konigsberg Can Help
Cigarette companies have long engaged in deceptive marketing practices, including targeting young people and minority groups. As a result of these practices, millions of people have become addicted to cigarettes, and thousands have died prematurely as a result. In recent years, however, these companies have finally been held accountable for their actions. Several high-profile lawsuits have resulted in million-dollar verdicts against the tobacco companies, and Levy Konigsberg has been at the forefront of this legal fight.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by cigarettes, we encourage you to contact us today. Our experienced attorneys will review your case and determine if you may be entitled to compensation.
Call us today at (800) 315-3806 or fill out our form online to schedule a free initial consultation.