We sometimes see it on cigarette packs and in brand communication: tar.
When cigarettes are “low in tar” many smokers feel somewhat relieved that their brand choices may be less deadly than other brands. But what exactly is tar and why is it important for smokers? Here we discuss what tar is and how it affects the body.
What is tar?
More harmful substances in cigarettes include nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. Contrary to what might be imagined, the tar in cigarettes is not the same as the tar that roads are paved with. Cigarette tar is produced when the tobacco plant and other substances in cigarettes are burned while smoking. The tobacco contains tar worth 5 to 15 mg. This substance often appears as a sticky brown resin around the cigarette filter and is actually quite toxic. It contains over 200 different harmful substances that can negatively affect the body.
What is the effect of tar on the body
Tar has various effects on the body, some of which are pretty obvious visually. For example, over time, smokers’ teeth will stain from tar and turn brown or yellow. This happens because tar particles are sticky and can easily stick to your teeth over time.
Because of the sticky properties of tar, when inhaled, it causes a number of health problems. Although it usually takes some time for the process to be more easily noticed, tar gradually adheres to and covers lung tissue. This is often seen in photos comparing smokers’ lungs to non-smokers: smokers’ lungs tend to turn gray to black over time, while nonsmokers’ lungs are pink and clean. As you can imagine, tar-coated lungs do not absorb oxygen efficiently. Since tar is an irritant that contains toxic particles, its presence in the lungs can actually cause additional respiratory diseases.
Since tar is contained in cigarette smoke, it not only affects smokers directly, but also non-smokers in their environment who inhale secondhand smoke. As a result, cigarette smoke threatens the health of others without a smoker needing to be aware of it. Tobacco tar also contains a number of cancer-causing substances that build up over time. It is believed that smoking increases the risk of disease because these substances have the ability to alter ordinary cells and cause malignant tumors.
How to avoid tarrying in tears
Some smokers, aware of the dangers of tar, specifically choose brands of cigarettes with the lowest possible concentration of tar to limit their absorption of this toxin. Many low-tar cigarettes generally have a thicker filter and more air holes to help dilute the tar before it is inhaled. Even so, smoking 1 mg tar cigarettes has similar health consequences as smoking cigarettes with a higher tar content, even if symptoms may take a little longer to develop. There is no way to completely eliminate this risk with standard cigarettes.
When smoking a cigarette, some smokers try to get more resistance and may chew on the cigarette filter in the process. In fact, biting or chewing on the filter isn’t particularly good: it can block the vents and restrict airflow even more.
Smoking heavier cigarettes and considering low-tar cigarettes can actually reduce the amount of tar that gets into your body – especially if you smoke lightly and try to stick to the same number of cigarettes that you do have smoked with the higher tar brand. Even if you’re not fully thinking about quitting smoking right now, stepping down from a brand with a lower tar content can help limit the large number of toxins getting into your lungs and prepare you to quit smoking.
Tobacco contains a number of pollutants, of which tar is particularly bad. Inhaling tar not only has a direct impact on a smoker, it also has a negative impact on the health of those around them. For your health and that of those around you, it is recommended that if you want to smoke, at least consider switching to a type with a low tar content (e.g. 1 mg tar).