The Hidden Dangers of Cigars

We all know that cigarettes have an image problem these days. You don’t see them very much in films anymore—even the villains seem to have kicked the habit. But when it comes to cigars, that’s not the case. Many people still think cigars are cool. The notion is helped by pictures of elegant men in tuxedos and a few famous women puffing away at their cigars—think of those much-circulated photos of Demi Moore and Madonna. Cigars even show up in films made for younger moviegoers. Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Quantum of Solace, and Wolverine all feature cigar-smoking.

Indeed, the American Cancer Society notes that cigars are especially popular today among adolescents and young adults. That includes all manner of cigars: hand- and machine-rolled, stogies and cigarillos.

Cigar smokers may think they’re taking less of a risk than cigarette smokers. That’s wrong, mostly. While it’s true that most cigar smokers do not inhale all the way, smoking cigars is linked to cancers that develop along the route the smoke travels—from the lips to the tongue and through the mouth and throat to the lungs. 

Beyond that, smoking cigars has been shown to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, heart disease, and lung disease.  

Secondhand cigar smoke poses another danger—even more so than with cigarettes. As the National Cancer Institute points out, cigars contain greater amounts of tobacco simply as a result of their bigger size. It also takes longer to puff your way through a cigar, meaning that the exposure time to toxic chemicals lasts longer.

Finally, because of the way cigars are wrapped, the smoke has higher concentrations of toxins and irritants than cigarettes. A Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology study found higher levels of the toxin carbon monoxide at two cigar social events in San Francisco than on a busy California freeway.

As for nicotine—the chemical that gets you hooked on smoking—cigars contain greater concentrations of it than cigarettes. For a large cigar, it can be up to 200 milligrams. That’s 23 times the amount of nicotine in a typical cigarette. The difference is that cigar smokers—most of whom don’t inhale smoke into their lungs—absorb the smoke through the lining of the mouth.

About a third of new teenage smokers start after being exposed to smoking in movies. Talk to your kids. Remind them that smoking cigars isn’t cool.

I found this article in one of my online cigar groups. It is interesting but I don’t know for sure. Yes, the second hand smoke is bad. I agree. The nicotine does get absorbed through the mouth. But I don’t know about its concentration. Cigars always were thought to be a weaker source of nicotine than cigarettes mostly because the leaves are hung and dried. Also an average person takes 45 minutes to smoke one Cohiba or up to two hours to smoke one Churchill. That usually means one cigar per day is plenty. I cannot say that abut cigarettes. It may have 23/200 of nicotine of a cigar but who smokes 1 cigarette daily? I have to agree about not inhaling. The smoke may not be a big source of lung cancer but definitely can work on the gums. This article is too short to persuade. They need to include a good deal more research. I see too many prints like this appearing and the next month another tiny article rebuffs and it goes on back and forth forever.


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