- Cigars are usually made from a single type of tobacco. Cigarettes are made from different blends of tobacco.
Cigars are available in different sizes and shapes. Large cigars can take one to two hours to smoke.
- Cigars go through a long process of fermentation. Many harmful chemicals are produced during this time.
- Cigar smoke has higher levels of toxins and irritants than cigarette smoke.
- The majority of people who only smoke cigars do not inhale. Cigar smokers who smoke or used to smoke cigarettes are more likely to inhale. These people have increased health risks.
- About 75 percent of cigar smokers smoke occasionally, rather than daily.
- Unlike cigarettes, most cigars do no have a tip or filter. As a result, the cigar is in direct contact with the lips, tongue and mouth. When saliva mixes with the tobacco, nicotine and other chemicals are released. This process is similar to spit tobacco.
Cigars and Health Risks
- There are many health risks associated with cigar smoking. Cigar smokers who smoke daily and inhale have greater exposure and increased health risks.
- People who smoke cigars have increased risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, lung and esophagus.
- People who smoke cigars daily have an increased risk for heart disease and chronic lung disease.
- Holding an unlit cigar between your lips exposes the mouth, throat and esophagus to cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins.
Cigars and Nicotine Addiction
- The nicotine content of cigars varies and is not based only on the size of the cigar.
- The amount of nicotine absorbed also varies and may depend on
- if smoking the first part or last part of the cigar
- if the cigar has a filter or tip
- if the person inhales smoke into the lungs
- Nicotine from cigars is delivered in several ways:
- when smoke is inhaled into lungs
- when smoke that is not inhaled is absorbed by the lining of the mouth and nose
- when an unlit cigar is held between the lips, allowing saliva to mix with the tobacco
Quit methods used for quitting cigarettes may be helpful for quitting cigars. Quit smoking medicines have not been approved for cigars.
National Cancer Institute, Smoking and Tobacco Control Monographs, Number 9: Cigars: Health Effects and Trends
Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.
This information has been approved by Amy Lukowski, PsyD (November 2011).