Tobacco use is a major public health problem worldwide. Tobacco-related cancers cause millions of deaths annually. Although several tobacco agents play a role in the development of tumors, the potent effects of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) and N'-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) are unique. Metabolically activated NNK and NNN induce deleterious mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppression genes by forming DNA adducts, which could be considered as tumor initiation. Meanwhile, the binding of NNK and NNN to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor promotes tumor growth by enhancing and deregulating cell proliferation, survival, migration, and invasion, thereby creating a microenvironment for tumor growth. These two unique aspects of NNK and NNN synergistically induce cancers in tobacco-exposed individuals. This review will discuss various types of tobacco products and tobacco-related cancers, as well as the molecular mechanisms by which nitrosamines, such as NNK and NNN, induce cancer.