The Health Effects of Smoking Cigars

While many people consider smoking cigars to be a sophisticated and luxurious habit, there is growing evidence that cigars can have serious health consequences. Despite popular belief, cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes and can lead to various health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and respiratory issues.

One of the main reasons why cigars are harmful to health is the fact that they contain high levels of toxic chemicals. The tobacco used in cigars is fermented and aged, which concentrates these harmful substances. When cigars are smoked, these chemicals are released into the lungs and can cause significant damage over time.

Another misconception is that cigars are less addictive than cigarettes. However, cigars contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. In fact, cigars often have higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes, which can make it even harder for smokers to quit.

In addition to the direct health risks, smoking cigars also poses a danger to those around you. Secondhand smoke from cigars contains many of the same toxic chemicals as the smoke inhaled by the smoker, putting non-smokers at risk for developing the same health problems.

It’s important to recognize the potential harm that cigars can cause and make informed decisions about your health. If you are currently smoking cigars, consider talking to a healthcare professional about ways to quit and reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions.

Health Risks of Smoking Cigars

While cigars are often perceived as a more sophisticated and less harmful alternative to cigarettes, the reality is that they still pose significant health risks. Despite their refined image, smoking cigars can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions.


One of the most significant health risks associated with smoking cigars is an increased risk of cancer. Cigar smoke contains numerous toxic and carcinogenic substances, including tobacco-specific nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds. These substances can cause cancer in various parts of the body, including the lungs, mouth, throat, and esophagus.

Respiratory Problems

Smoking cigars can also lead to respiratory problems. The inhalation of cigar smoke can cause irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract, leading to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In addition, smoking cigars can contribute to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and worsen existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

Furthermore, cigar smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide, which can bind to hemoglobin in the blood and reduce its ability to carry oxygen. This can result in reduced oxygen levels in the body, leading to fatigue, dizziness, and other respiratory-related issues.

Overall, it is clear that smoking cigars carries significant health risks. Contrary to popular belief, cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes and can lead to serious medical conditions such as cancer and respiratory problems. Quitting smoking altogether is the best way to protect your health.

Effects on Respiratory System

It is well-established that smoking cigars can have severe negative effects on the respiratory system. The inhalation of cigar smoke introduces harmful substances into the lungs, leading to various respiratory problems.

1. Cough and Chronic Bronchitis

Cigar smoke contains numerous toxic chemicals that irritate the airways and lead to an increased production of mucus. This constant irritation can cause a persistent cough, which is a common symptom among cigar smokers. Furthermore, the chronic irritation can eventually lead to chronic bronchitis, a condition characterized by excessive mucus production and frequent bouts of coughing.

2. Damage to Lung Tissue

The toxins present in cigar smoke can also cause damage to the delicate tissues of the lungs. Over time, this damage can contribute to the development of conditions such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema is a progressive lung disease that causes the air sacs in the lungs to lose their elasticity, making it difficult to breathe. COPD, on the other hand, is a term used to describe a group of lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which result in airflow obstruction and breathing difficulties.

In addition to these conditions, cigar smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. The harmful substances in cigar smoke can cause mutations in the DNA of lung cells, leading to the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells.

It is important to note that the effects on the respiratory system can vary depending on the frequency and duration of cigar smoking. However, even occasional cigar smoking can still pose potential risks to lung health.

To protect your respiratory system, it is strongly advised to avoid smoking cigars altogether. If you are a current cigar smoker, quitting is the best course of action to minimize the long-term damage to your lungs and overall health.

Increased Risk of Cancer

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to cigars is the increased risk of cancer. Smoking cigars exposes the body to harmful carcinogens, which are cancer-causing substances. These carcinogens can damage DNA and increase the chances of developing various types of cancer.

Lung Cancer: Cigar smoking is a well-known risk factor for lung cancer. Even though cigar smokers do not inhale as much smoke as cigarette smokers, they still inhale enough to put them at risk. The smoke from cigars contains many of the same toxic chemicals found in cigarettes that contribute to the development of lung cancer.

Oral Cancer: The oral cavity is directly exposed to the toxic chemicals present in cigar smoke, increasing the risk of oral cancer. This includes cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth, and throat. The heat of the cigar and the contact between the smoke and the oral tissues can cause the cells to undergo changes that may lead to cancer.

Other Types of Cancer:

Aside from lung and oral cancer, cigar smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of developing other types of cancer. This includes cancer of the esophagus, larynx, pancreas, bladder, and kidneys. The toxic chemicals in cigars can affect these organs and contribute to the development of cancerous cells.

It’s important to note that the risk of cancer associated with cigar smoking is not limited to regular smokers. Even occasional cigar smokers are at risk. The longer a person smokes cigars and the more cigars they smoke, the higher their risk of developing cancer.

In conclusion, the increased risk of cancer is a major concern for cigar smokers. The exposure to carcinogens and the direct contact between the smoke and various organs can greatly increase the chances of developing different types of cancer. Quitting smoking cigars is the best way to reduce the risk and improve overall health.

Cardiovascular Problems

Smoking cigars can have a negative impact on your cardiovascular health. The chemicals found in cigars, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide, can raise your blood pressure and heart rate, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Regular cigar smoking can increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD occurs when the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients become narrowed or blocked, leading to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack.

A study published in the American Heart Journal found that cigar smokers had a four times higher risk of developing CHD compared to non-smokers. This risk increased with the number of cigars smoked per day and the duration of smoking.


Smoking cigars also increases your risk of stroke, a condition in which the blood flow to the brain is disrupted, leading to brain damage. The chemicals in cigars can cause blood clots to form, which can then travel to the brain and block a blood vessel.

A study published in the journal Stroke found that cigar smokers had a significantly higher risk of stroke compared to non-smokers. The risk was especially high in those who smoked cigars daily.

Cardiovascular Problems Risk
Coronary Heart Disease Increased risk, especially with higher cigar consumption
Stroke Increased risk, especially with daily cigar smoking

It is important to note that the risks associated with cigars are not limited to occasional or moderate smoking. Even occasional cigar smoking can have negative effects on your cardiovascular health. Quitting smoking altogether is the best way to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.

Oral Health Dangers

Smoking cigars can have serious negative effects on your oral health. The chemicals in cigars can cause damage to your teeth, gums, and mouth. Here are some of the oral health dangers associated with smoking cigars:

Tooth discoloration: The tar and nicotine in cigars can easily stain your teeth, causing them to become yellow or brown over time. This can be difficult to reverse, even with professional teeth whitening treatments.

Gum disease: Smoking cigars increases your risk of developing gum disease. The toxins in cigars can irritate and inflame your gums, leading to gum recession, periodontitis, and tooth loss. Smokers are also more likely to experience bleeding gums and bad breath.

Oral cancer: Cigar smoking is a major risk factor for oral cancer. The smoke from cigars contains harmful chemicals, including tobacco-specific nitrosamines, that can cause DNA damage and lead to the development of cancerous cells in the mouth, lips, and throat.

Dry mouth: Smoking cigars can contribute to dry mouth, a condition where there is insufficient saliva production in the mouth. Saliva helps to naturally cleanse the mouth and neutralize acids produced by bacteria. Without enough saliva, you may experience an increased risk of tooth decay, bad breath, and difficulty chewing and swallowing.

It is important to note that even occasional cigar smoking poses risks to your oral health. Quitting smoking altogether is the best way to protect your mouth and overall health.

Secondhand Smoke Hazards

Exposure to secondhand smoke can be just as harmful as smoking a cigar yourself. Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the end of a burning cigar and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 70 known carcinogens (chemicals that can cause cancer).

Health risks of secondhand smoke:

  • Cancer: Breathing in secondhand smoke increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Non-smokers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke have a 20-30% higher chance of developing lung cancer compared to those who are not exposed.
  • Heart disease: Secondhand smoke can also damage the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of heart disease. Even brief exposure to the smoke can have immediate effects on the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Respiratory issues: Secondhand smoke can cause or worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. It can also aggravate symptoms in individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, leading to more frequent and severe attacks.

Protecting yourself from secondhand smoke:

To reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke, it is important to avoid environments where smoking is allowed. If you must be in a smoking area, try to position yourself as far away from the smokers as possible. Opening windows or using fans to create proper ventilation can also help reduce the concentration of smoke in indoor spaces.

If you live or work with a smoker, encourage them to quit smoking and support them through the quitting process. Creating a smoke-free environment at home and in the workplace is essential to protect not only yourself but also those around you.

Remember, secondhand smoke is not only detrimental to your health but to others as well. By being aware of the hazards and taking necessary precautions, you can reduce the risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure.

Addiction and Dependency

Addiction and dependency are significant concerns when it comes to smoking cigars. The nicotine content in cigars can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is present in cigars. When cigars are smoked, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. This leads to the release of dopamine in the brain, which creates a pleasurable sensation. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to this dopamine release and craves it, leading to addiction.

Once addicted, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit smoking cigars. These symptoms can include irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and intense cravings for nicotine. The strength of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the level of nicotine dependence.

Furthermore, smoking cigars can also create a psychological dependence. Many individuals associate cigars with certain activities or social situations, and may feel a strong desire to smoke a cigar in those contexts. This can make it difficult to quit or reduce cigar smoking, as the behavior becomes deeply ingrained in daily routines and habits.

The Risks of Addiction

Smoking cigars regularly and becoming addicted to nicotine can have serious health consequences. Nicotine addiction increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. It can also contribute to the development of respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Moreover, addiction to cigars can take a toll on mental health. The constant cravings, failed attempts to quit, and the feeling of being controlled by an addiction can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety.

It is essential to recognize the addictive nature of cigars and the serious health risks associated with addiction. Seeking professional help and support can greatly increase the chances of successfully quitting cigar smoking and improving overall health.

Consideration for Public Policies

When it comes to cigars and their potential health effects, public policies play a crucial role in protecting public health and promoting responsible behaviors. Several key considerations should be made when developing such policies.

1. Tobacco Control Regulations

Tobacco control regulations, which govern the production, sale, and marketing of tobacco products, should include specific provisions for cigars. These regulations may include restrictions on flavorings, advertising, and packaging, as well as requirements for health warnings on cigar labels.

2. Taxation and Pricing

High taxation and pricing can significantly reduce cigar consumption, especially among vulnerable populations such as youth and low-income individuals. Implementing specific and substantial taxes on cigars can help discourage their use and generate revenue for public health initiatives.

Moreover, price increases have been proven to be an effective strategy in reducing smoking rates and preventing youth initiation. It is important to consider implementing policies that ensure cigars are appropriately priced based on their health risks.

In conclusion, considering and implementing public policies that address the unique characteristics and potential health risks of cigars is crucial. By regulating the tobacco industry, taxing cigars at an appropriate level, and implementing other control measures, public health can be better protected, and individuals can be empowered to make informed decisions about their tobacco use.

Questions and answers: How bad are cigar smoke for you

How do cigarette smoke and cigar smoke compare in terms of health risks?

Cigarette smoke and cigar smoke both contain harmful chemicals and carcinogens, but cigar smoke is often denser and contains higher levels of these substances. This difference can lead to varied health risks between the two.

What are the health effects of premium cigars according to the National Cancer Institute?

The National Cancer Institute states that health effects of premium cigars include increased risks of cancers, particularly oral, lung, and esophageal cancers, even if the cigar is not inhaled into the lungs.

Are cigars bad for health, and why?

Yes, cigars are bad for health as they contain many of the same toxic substances found in cigarettes, including tar, nicotine, and carcinogens, which contribute to lung cancer and heart disease.

How does the use of cigars differ from cigarettes in terms of smoking habits?

Cigar smoking often involves more infrequent use compared to cigarettes, but cigars contain more tobacco and result in longer smoking sessions. However, some cigar smokers may not inhale the smoke deeply like cigarette smokers.

What are the health risks associated with cigar use as reported by the National Institutes of Health?

The National Institutes of Health reports that health risks associated with cigar use include cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and lungs, as well as heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Can second-hand cigarette smoke affect those who use cigars?

Yes, second-hand cigarette smoke can adversely affect cigar users as well as non-smokers, leading to similar health risks such as respiratory issues and increased cancer risk.

What is the impact of current cigar use on general health?

Current cigar use, especially heavy cigar smoking, can lead to adverse health effects, including increased risk of various cancers, heart disease, and respiratory problems.

Is there a safe level of smoke cigarettes?

No, there is no safe level of cigar smoking. Even occasional cigar use can lead to health problems, as all tobacco products, including cigars, pose significant health risks.

How does adding flavors to premium cigars affect their use and health implications?

Adding flavors to premium cigars can make them more appealing, especially to younger users, potentially increasing frequency of smoking and exposure to harmful substances found in cigars.

What is the difference between cigarillos and little cigars in terms of health effects?

Cigarillos and little cigars are similar to large cigars and cigarettes in terms of health risks. They contain harmful chemicals and toxins that can lead to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory issues, just like larger cigars and cigarettes.