Cigarettes in a Pile

How Much Tar in That Cigarette?

The yellow stains on a smoker’s fingers and teeth is caused by the tar that results from smoking tobacco.

Tar causes great damage to a person’s lungs as it kills the cilia, affecting breathing ability.

The accumulation of this substance can be difficult to imagine, but a graphic video demonstrates for people the levels of tar that is extracted from approximately 20 packs of cigarettes.

Smoking Video Shows Tar Extraction

The video Still Smoking? Watch This! shows an experiment where almost 400 cigarettes are “smoked” through water using a vacuum. The water turns brown and then eventually black as the tar is extracted from the cigarettes. The more “tarry” the water, the more smoke is trapped as well.

Cigarettes in a PileThe experimenters then boil the tar water. After the water as evaporated, only the thick black tar remains. After letting the substance dry, the result is a sticky, crusty tar crust.

This experiment was done to stimulate what substance settles in a smoker’s lungs.

More Reason to Quit Smoking

The cigarettes used in this experiment contained 18 mg of tar. Cigarette companies manufacture cigarettes in three categories:

  • low tar cigarettes with 7 mg of tar or less
  • medium tar cigarettes with 15 to 21 mg of tar
  • high tar cigarettes with 22 mg of tar or more

Cigarettes contain over 4,00 chemicals, including more than 40 known carcinogens. Tar in cigarettes is the byproduct of smoking tobacco. Tar build up in the lungs causes damage as it prevents proper functioning. The accumulation of tar in a smoker’s body contributes to several health problems, including the following few:

  • emphysema
  • bronchitis
  • lung cancer
  • chronic respiratory disease
  • mouth cancer
  • throat cancer.

Watch the video Still Smoking?

See for yourself the amount of tar that’s produced

3 thoughts on “How Much Tar in That Cigarette?

  1. David Boulton

    I’m not sure who to share this with. As my good friends, Kirk and Sandy over at Positive Projections, tweeted about this page, I decided to share it with you.

    My work is about healthy learning and from that perspective the following is an idea that I think could help many more smokers quit than anything else out there on the market:

    A natural substance that can be added (by drops or mist-spray or …) to cigarettes… 

    The substance is something that will cause the taste of the cigarette to shift in a tolerably distasteful way.  Ideally the substance can be varied in flavor and distaste intensity. The distaste can be user varied from tolerable through disgusting (possibly to the edge of the gag reflex).  A smoker then embarks on a self-paced progression from mild distaste to disgust. With the right substance this kind of ‘feedback’ could be extremely helpful to a person who wants to quit. 

    A person desiring to quit smoking removes their smokes from the original pack ‘treats’ them and places them in the quit pack.  An alternate is that rather than having to ‘treat’ them, placing them into the ‘quit pack’ treats them.

    We learn best, including changing behaviors, when we receive vivid feedback on the living edge of our learning. A system like this would allow someone who wants to quit to regulate the vividness of the feedback they need to turn their experience of smoking against their habit of smoking. Someone out there in alternative health should perfect the additive substance and method of delivery. 

    David Boulton, Learning-Activist

  2. POW'R Tobacco Cessation Center

    The facts are: Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths. 

    Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death.

    Health care professionals are good sources of information about the health risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting. Talk to your doctor, dentist, pharmacist, or other health care provider about the proper use and potential side effects of nicotine replacement products and other medicines.
    Your state has a toll-free telephone quitline. Call 1–800–QUIT–NOW (1–800–784–8669) to get one-on-one help with quitting, support and coping strategies, and referrals to resources and local cessation programs. The toll-free number routes callers to state-run quitlines, which provide free cessation assistance and resource information to all tobacco users in the United States. This initiative was created by the Department of Health and Human Services.  

    Healthcare providers and tobacco users in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley region, specifically, should contact POW’R Tobacco Cessation Center ( ), a grant program of the American Lung Association of the Northeast and funded by the New York State Department of Health Tobacco Control Program (NYTCP).   POW’R provides on-site evidence-based tobacco cessation training to healthcare providers using clinical guidelines to assist them in helping patients to quit smoking.  We also provide outreach services, materials and resources for tobacco users.

  3. Abass Toriola

    Very insightful experiment. I hope this will go a long way in deterring smokers from the habit.
    Even if they don’t quit for other reasons, the health problems caused by tar are enough reasons for them to quit today.


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