Loose googling brings up 4000 as the magic number, of which around 50 are bad/dangerous. Is that right?
Tobacco is a dried biological tissue, of course there are thousands of chemicals in it. There are also thousands of chemicals in apple pie.
Of course you don’t smoke apple pie unless your oven’s thermostat goes bad at a critical time, but still every time you eat or inhale anything that was once living, you are ingesting thousands of different chemical compounds.
The '4000 chemicals in a cigarette" is just a scare tactic used by people willing to play on the widespread public misperception that chemicals are universally bad.
Of course tobacco smoke contains far more chemicals in tobacco than apple pie. The high temperature, anoxic burning process creates a lot of reactive, partially oxidised species, such as carbon monoxide, that simply can’t exist in apple pies.
If you smoked the apple pie you’d have CO, but CO isn’t the real problem with cigarettes. The real problem are the PAH’s and if you really really badly overcook your apple pie to a cinder, you’ll have plenty. Of course your not inhaling them, so you wont get lung cancer.
I think this is mostly a political question nowadays. Smoking is as bad as Hitler and public health authorities attack tobacco any way they can, and are completely opposed to any kind of cost/benefit analysis that would indicate there is anything but death in that roll of tobacco, unlike virtually any other legal substance that is deemed unhealthy when abused, like alcoholic beverages, soda pop, and fast food.
The chemical count seems to be a scare tactic. Now, some of those chemicals seem to be pretty dangerous, and I’m not trying to say that smoking is good, but many of the chemicals listed are found in nature and virtually everyone is exposed to some level of them. For example, I have been told that there is a detectable amount of nicotine in tomatoes, though not anywhere near the concentration found in tobacco leaves.
I don’t smoke.
Is it too early in the thread to mention the ghastly, lethal-in-high-doses dihydrogen monoxyde ?