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Cigarettes & tobacco

Fact sheets on cigarettes, other tobacco products, and secondhand smoke.

What’s in a cigarette?

Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of over 7000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals come from burning tobacco. The remainder come from burning cigarette paper, agricultural chemicals left on the tobacco leaves and chemicals added during the cigarette making process.

Once inhaled into the lungs, many of these chemicals pass through the lung walls into the blood stream, and are pumped around the body.

For more information see What's in cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco?

Types of tobacco products

While manufactured cigarettes are the most popular form of tobacco, other tobacco products include cigars, pipe tobacco, bidis, kreteks (or clove cigarettes), roll-your-own tobacco, waterpipes and smokeless tobacco. These products also cause smoking related disease, although some risks may differ from cigarettes. Other substances that are smoked include herbal cigarettes and cannabis.

For more information see: 

Weaker tasting cigarette

Weaker tasting cigarettes, often labelled ‘smooth’ or ‘fine’ cigarettes, are not less dangerous than regular cigarettes. There is no evidence that people who smoke smooth or fine cigarettes have less risk of smoking-caused diseases than people who smoke other cigarettes.

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke consists mainly of smoke released from the burning end of a cigarette, and also of smoke breathed out by the person who smokes. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke. Breathing in secondhand smoke can also be referred to as passive smoking or involuntary smoking.

Secondhand smoke is diluted by being mixed with air, so people breathing it in inhale less smoke than the person smoking. While this means active smoking is more dangerous to health than breathing in secondhand smoke, secondhand smoke still causes many diseases and symptoms of illness. 

For more information see Secondhand smoke.

Also see the Secondhand smoke and your children brochure.

Thirdhand smoke

Thirdhand smoke refers to the chemicals and particles from secondhand smoke that settle onto and coat walls, furniture, carpet, clothes, toys, dust and other objects. Thirdhand smoke is also found on the clothing, skin and hair of people who smoke.

These sources of tobacco smoke pollution can be a concern for parents, family members, carers and health professionals who look after children or people in aged care facilities and disability or mental health services.

For more information about how to protect children and non-smokers from all sources of tobacco smoke pollution see Thirdhand smoke and indoor smoking bans.

Suggested Resources

Quitting smoking fact sheets

Quitting smoking fact sheets and brochures to provide information on quitting services and stop smoking medication to help people who smoke decide how to quit.

Find out more
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