Cigars Are Just As Bad As Cigarettes - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on March 18, 2015

Cigars Are Just As Bad As Cigarettes

One large cigar may contain as much
tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes.

Like toasting with a glass of champagne, cigars are a staple of celebration. At graduations, weddings, births, new jobs and other events that call for celebration, you’re likely to see men and women alike puffing on stogies together.

Many people believe that cigars aren’t as harmful as cigarettes since they smoke them much less frequently and they don’t inhale. Many also believe that smoking cigars isn’t addictive. However, these claims are myths.

In fact, research shows that smoking cigars is every bit as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, and possibly even more so.

One large cigar may contain more than a half ounce of tobacco, which is as much tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes.

In addition, one cigar contains 100 to 200 milligrams of the highly-addictive nicotine – one cigarette averages about 8 milligrams of nicotine. If you inhale while smoking a cigar, you can get as much nicotine as if you smoked a pack of cigarettes. If you don't intentionally inhale cigar smoke, you can still absorb large amounts of nicotine through the lining of your mouth. Overall, smoking cigars instead of cigarettes doesn't reduce your risk of nicotine dependence.

Just like cigarettes, smoking cigars can have some harmful effects on your health.

Even if you don’t inhale cigar smoke, you can still be increasing your risk for certain cancers. Regular cigar smokers are four to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the mouth, larynx and esophagus than nonsmokers. And oral cancer can develop anywhere cigar smoke touches, including lips, mouth, throat and tongue. The risk of pancreas, bladder and lung cancers increases in cigar smokers who inhale. Cigar smokers double their risk for airway damage that leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and if they have asthma, cigar smoking makes it worse. Smoking cigars also increases the risk of having heart disease or a stroke.

And if you have a nice smile, you might want to reconsider smoking a cigar. Doing so can contribute to gum disease, stained teeth, bad breath and tooth loss.

The harmful effects of smoking cigars don’t stop at the smoker – they can be just as dangerous to those around you while you’re smoking. Cigars’ secondhand smoke is filled with toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide. The cigar wrapper, which is made from a tobacco leaf, is less porous than cigarettes’ wrappers. This means cigars don’t burn as thoroughly as cigarettes, increasing the concentration of cancer-causing substances released into the air, including ammonia, tar and carbon monoxide.

So what does this all burn down to? If you don’t smoke cigars, don’t start. And if you smoke them, quit. You’ll be able to enjoy more life achievements if you do, and that’s something worth celebrating.

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