And Just Like That…You Wonder: How Bad Are Cigars?

And Just Like That…You Wonder: How Bad Are Cigars?

If you didn’t catch the first episode of the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That…you likely heard about it. It ends with John Preston, aka Mr. Big, dead from a heart attack.

Big lived a life of “weekly cigars” and steaks. But could those cigars really have played a role in his death? How bad are cigars?

Here are the facts you need to know.

Are cigars worse than cigarettes?

There has been more study into the health consequences of smoking cigarettes than smoking cigars, but there is enough strong evidence about the health problems caused by cigar smoking to say it is a substantial risk to health.

The smoke from cigars contains the same toxic chemicals as the smoke from a cigarette. Compounds in the smoke can cause cancer, heart disease, lung diseases as well as oral and dental disease, which has been linked specifically to cigar smoking.

All cigar smokers, whether or not they inhale, directly expose their lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and larynx to smoke and its toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, when saliva containing the chemicals in tobacco smoke is swallowed, the esophagus is exposed to carcinogens.

Facts about cigars

regular cigar smoking is associated with an increased risk for cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, lip, tongue, mouthm, and throat

cigar smoking is linked to gum disease and tooth loss

heavy cigar smokers and those who inhale deeply may be at increased risk for developing coronary heart disease

Heavy cigar smoking increases the risk for lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Another danger with cigar smoking is it can appear harmless to cigarette smokers looking to quit nicotine. This quote below from a member of our online EX Community shows just how sneaky cigar smoking can be to break a quit.

how bad are cigars quote

Is there nicotine in cigars?

Like cigarettes, cigars contain nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco.  In fact, a single full size cigar can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

A cigar smoker can get nicotine by two routes: by inhalation into the lungs and by absorption through the lining of the mouth. Either way, the smoker becomes addicted to the nicotine that gets into the body.

Overcoming addiction to nicotine

So to answer the question, “how bad are cigars?,” here is our short response: Although the specific health effects from a single occasional cigar aren’t so clear, there is no safe form of tobacco, and the only safe level of cigar smoking is none at all.

This means even being a “weekly cigar” user like Big can put health at risk.

See how our EX Community of peers and expert EX Coaches help individuals overcome all forms of tobacco—including cigars.  Contact us for a demo or visit our Program page to learn more.

Jessie Saul, Ph.D.
Jessie Saul, Ph.D.

Director, Strategic Insights

Dr. Jessie Saul brings 19 years of experience in research, program evaluation, and strategic implementation around tobacco cessation. She applies this deep understanding to improve EX Program performance and reduce tobacco use among populations. She earned her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University.