How Bad Are Cigars for You?

How Bad Are Cigars for You?

How bad are cigars for you and your employees or members?

Here is the short answer: 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.

Here are more facts you need to know.

Is Cigar Smoking Worse than Cigarette Smoking?

There has been more study into the serious health risks 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, including lung cancer, 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.

Are Cigars Bad for You?

Facts about Cigar Smoke and Its Effects on the Body

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

  • Cigar smoking is linked to gum disease and tooth loss

Cigar Smoking is Linked to Gum Disease

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

heavy cigar smoking and heart disease

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

heavy cigar smoking can cause lung diseases

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.

“I understand not everyone is a planner. But if you are a list maker, calendar keeper, alarm setter, you’ll understand.

I’m one of those people who, when I am going away for a weekend, I will pack my bag 2 weeks prior, and practice using all the stuff in the bag for the weekend before I go. Yes, I’m that much of a planner.

When it came to quitting smoking, I planned. I set a date, I read all the stuff, I got rid of all the other stuff, I cleaned, I rearranged furniture, I made purchases I probably didn’t need.

And then I quit. The problem is, I didn’t quit for good at that point. I didn’t plan ahead and a friend lit up a cigar while we were drinking whiskey and man, I wanted one. Without even giving it a third thought I asked him for one and I was a smoker again.”

-EX Community member

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.

To learn more about the latest stats on cigars, visit Cigars: Facts, Stats and Regulations. 

Is One Cigar a Year Bad for You?

Smoking even one cigar per year can still pose health risks. While the occasional cigar may seem harmless compared to regular smoking habits, it’s essential to understand that cigars contain tobacco, and tobacco smoke contains harmful chemicals, including nicotine and tar. The only safe number of cigars to smoke is zero.

Is There More Secondhand Smoke from Cigar Smoke than from Cigarette Smoke?

Cigar and cigarette smoke can both generate harmful secondhand smoke, but the quantity of secondhand smoke emitted is influenced by several factors, such as the size of the smoking product (little cigars or large cigars) and the frequency of smoking. While cigars tend to physically hold more tobacco leaf, cigarette smokers tend to smoke more often, increasing the total amount of secondhand cigarette smoke generated.
It is crucial to acknowledge that smoke from both cigars and cigarettes carry health risks for both cigar smokers and individuals exposed to them.

Overcoming Addiction to Nicotine

In short, even being a “weekly cigar” user can put health at risk. But those who use cigars do not have to try to quit smoking alone.

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

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.

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