Fact or fiction

There are lots of popular beliefs about tobacco that become "facts" because they aren't verified. That's why it's important to understand the myths about smoking and know the difference between what is fact and what is fiction.

Flavoured cigarettes generally contain less chemical substances than ordinary cigarettes.

Flavoured cigarettes are simply ordinary cigarettes that contain additives to improve the flavour and smell and disguise the unpleasant taste of tobacco smoke. By making cigarettes more attractive, sweet or fruity flavourings create a more enjoyable first smoking experience, which encourages smoking and makes it more attractive, especially to young people.

Certain substances mask the discomforts of smoking, such as respiratory tract irritation and other early warning signs of lung disease. For example, menthol acts as an analgesic and reduces the irritation that smokers would otherwise experience.

Please note that Quebec’s new law on tobacco control prohibits the sale of a tobacco product that has a flavour or aroma other than that of tobacco since August 26, 2016.


The smoke from my cigarettes can cause health problems in others.

Second-hand smoke is made up of the smoke that escapes directly from a cigarette, a cigar, a cigarillo or a pipe, as well as the smoke that is exhaled into the air by a smoker. It is more toxic than the smoke inhaled directly by the smoker.

Health Canada warns that second-hand smoke can cause cancer and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease among non-smokers. Regular exposure of a baby to second-hand smoke increases the risk of them being a victim of sudden infant death syndrome. In children, regular exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of having respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis, and also of suffering from ear infections, colds and learning disabilities.

Everyone benefits from living in a smoke-free environment and declaring themselves a Smoke-Free Family.


When you smoke without inhaling, there’s no risk of health problems.

Over 7,000 chemicals are released in tobacco smoke, of which over 70 lead to cancer in humans. We know that many of them are toxic, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, benzene, and ammonia.

Tobacco smoke is harmful for all the parts of the body it comes in contact with. Whether they inhale it or not, smokers run the risk of developing cancer of the lips, mouth, and tongue. On top of which, a smoker who does not directly breathe in the smoke from a cigarette still breathes in the second-hand smoke produced (see the preceding question in regard to this).


Smoking can lead to premature aging of the skin.

It's true, cigarettes cause the skin to age, even more so than the sun or the passing of the years. It also turns the complexion of the skin dull and greyish. Why invest a fortune in wrinkle creams when cigarettes are a recognized cause of premature wrinkling?


Quitting smoking can cause you to gain weight.

This is just about the only downside to butting out. Yes, quitting smoking can make you put on a few pounds. Why? First, because your body no longer has the nicotine to speed up your metabolism, you will burn fewer calories. Second, because your sense of smell and taste buds, which were dulled by the nicotine and toxic substances in cigarettes, come back to life. As a result, food tastes better and eating becomes more enjoyable. Many ex-smokers also automatically replace cigarettes with food.

No need to panic! A healthy lifestyle (being more active, eating well, listening to your body and eating only when you're hungry, and drinking lots of water) will help you control your weight—even better if you can get started before you stop smoking. For more information, consult the Healthy living section.


I’ve been a smoker for over 10 years. Even if I quit now, I won’t reap any health benefits.

All smokers—whether they are healthy or already suffer from a disease linked to tobacco—can benefit from the advantages of kicking the habit. Even older people who've smoked for years have much to gain from quitting. For more details, read the Perks of quitting section.


Cigarettes can make you impotent or cause fertility problems.

Cigarettes can damage or block the blood vessels, in particular the small vessels like those in the penis. In one out of two smokers who experience erectile difficulties, cigarettes are a direct cause. Smoking can also have an effect on a woman's reproductive system. In addition to contributing to infertility, smoking may also lead to early menopause.


E-cigarettes can be aN option to HELP ME quit smoking.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) seem to be a useful smoking cessation aid for certain types of smokers. However, because more research needs to be done and due to the lack of regulations and control of the numerous products available, it is recommended to use caution and to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before starting using them.

We therefore recommend that smokers first try proven methods to stop smoking, like nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gums, lozenges, inhaler or mouth spray), bupropion, or varenicline. The contents and manufacturing of these products are strictly regulated. What’s more, they are covered by most insurance plans.


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Need practical advice and support? Call the I QUIT helpline.
1 866 527-7383


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