The Truth About Cigars

All About Cigars

Large cigars or stogies, cigarillos, and little cigars are the three major types of cigars sold in the United States.

A cigar is classified as any roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in any substance containing tobacco whereas a cigarette is any roll or tobacco wrapped in paper or in any substance not containing tobacco.

Cigars contain the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.

History of the Cigar

The indigenous inhabitants of the islands of the Caribbean Sea and Mesoamerica have smoked cigars since as early as the 10th century, as evidenced by the discovery of a ceramic vessel at a Mayan archaeological site in Uaxactún, Guatemala, decorated with the painted figure of a man smoking a primitive cigar. Explorer Christopher Columbus is generally credited with the introduction of smoking to Europe.

In the 19th century, cigar smoking was common while cigarettes were still comparatively rare. The cigar business was an important industry, and factories employed many people before mechanized manufacturing of cigars became practical. Many modern cigars, as a matter of prestige, are still rolled by hand; some boxes bear the phrase Totalmente a mano, "Totally by hand," as proof.

How is a Cigar Different From a Cigarette?

For tax purcigarposes, the Department of Treasury defines cigars as "any roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in any substance containing tobacco" while a cigarette is defined as"any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in any substance not containing tobacco."

Cigarettes are relatively uniform in size and appearance and contain less than one gram of tobacco each. Cigars, on the other hand, vary considerably in size, from the size of a cigarette to more than 7 inches long. Large cigars typically contain between 5 and 17 grams of tobacco.

cigaretteIt is not unusual for some premium cigars to contain the tobacco equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes. Large cigars can take between one and two hours to smoke, whereas most cigarettes on the U.S. market take less than 10 minutes to smoke.

The Health Effects of Cigar Use

dark blue box Cigars contain the same addictive, toxic and carcinogenic compounds found
in cigarettes. In fact, cigar smokers may spend up to an hour smoking a
single large cigar that can contain as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes.
dark blue box Studies show that men who smoke at least five cigars a day and report
moderate inhalation, experience lung cancer deaths at about two-thirds
the rate of men who smoke one pack of cigarettes a day.
  Cigars can contain up to 70 times as much nicotine as cigarettes.
dark blue box Burning a cigar emits up to 25 times the amount of carbon monoxide than the emission of just one cigarette.
  The risk of dying from lung cancer is 68% higher for cigar smokers
compared to those who have never used tobacco products.
dark blue box Smoking three to four cigars per day increases the risk of oral cancers to
8.5 times greater than the risk of a nonsmoker, and smoking more than
five cigars daily raises the oral cancer risk to 16 times the level for
dark blue box Secondhand cigar smoke is more poisonous than the secondhand smoke from cigarettes emissions from one cigar exceed those from three cigarettes.
dark blue box References:

Are Cigars Addictive?

Nicotine is the agent in tobacco and tobacco smoke capable of producing addiction or nicotine dependence. Most cigars contain nicotine in quantities equivalent to several cigarettes and can deliver nicotine in concentrations comparable to those delivered by cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

When cigar smokers inhale, nicotine is absorbed rapidly as it is with cigarette smoke inhalation. For those who do not actively inhale, nicotine is absorbed predominantly through the lining of the mouth which leads to a slower rise and lower peak of nicotine in the blood compared to cigarette smokers who absorb nicotine primarily through the lungs. However, both inhaled and non inhaled nicotine can be highly addictive.

Reasons to Quit Cigars

dark blue box Tobacco use, whether cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco, causes almost twice as many strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases than it does lung cancer.

dark blue box Cigar smokers who inhale are 6 times more likely to die from oral cancer and 39 times more likely to die from laryngeal cancers than nonsmokers.

dark blue box Men who smoke 5 or more cigars per day are 2 to 3 times more likely to die of lung cancer than nonsmokers.




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Data and Reports

"There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke."

Source: U.S. Surgeon General Report, 2010



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More Information

For more information about the health effects of tobacco go to the Facts and Issues section.