My Dad went from cigarettes to small cigars because they were “less dangerous”. Cigars have become the saviour of an industry- it is increasing in leaps and bounds and not just with the elderly population, the young are increasing their cigar smoking. In 1996 5 billion cigars were consumed. In the US high school more students are flocking to cigars rather than cigarettes. In some studies teens and even pre-teens were smoking cigars with 1/4 of those children studied smoked 1 cigar in the past year, whereas 3% smoked 50+ in the past year. It also noted that female children were also increasing their cigar smoking.
Possibly because of the movies, TV and sport stars who flaunt the cigar’s use as a “rich persons cigarette”. You can even see cigar users smell the cigar, roll it, buy humidors and even buy specialized lighters to make sure that the burn is even. Some look at the texture, the size, feel…and even look at brands and vintage ages…just like wine connoisseurs.
Even the smoke of cigars is not a potent smell as cigarettes. Cigar magazines glorify cigars use as being rich, cool, attractive and a person that people look up to.
Here are a couple of cigar smokers comments about the effects of cigar smoking which were found online on discussion sites:
“Sorry, guys. This seems just so much scare tactics to me. Not enough information to be meaningful and mixing kinds of data to confuse the issue”.
“Someone who has never smoked anything in their lives can still get lung cancer”
Now these following answers were found on some of those Q&A websites. The age ranges for participants are: 12% under 18, 19% 18-24, 23% 25-34, 22% 35-44,15% 45-54 so a good cross section.
“Cigars really are not that bad for you since you don’t inhale- miss person above me. I really like the little ones that you can get everywhere! cherry tipped cigarillos.”
“You don't inhale a cigar, it’s meant purely for taste. Most good cigars are hand-rolled, however not all cigars are made from high quality stuff, some cheaper ones are manufactured just like cigarettes. Cigarettes on the other hand are meant to be inhaled so u get the nicotine (among many other substances) into your bloodstream...”
However with all myths, the truth is never told and skewed to fit the image rather than the facts…which are:
1. Cigar smokers compared to non-cigar smokers have a 410 times greater chance of developing oral type cancers
2. Smoking 5 or more cigars daily increases your chance of lung cancers 23 times. Possibly due to the longer smoking times (you are placed in a smoke environment for longer) and the larger cigars available.
3. Some large cigars have enough tobacco in them that are equivalent to one pack of cigarettes
4. It has also been noted that cigar smokers had a higher relapse rate than cigarette smokers and if you smoked cigars you are more likely to take up cigarette smoking.
The US Surgeon General did not exempt cigars from a list of health consequences of harmful tobacco products. Why?
1. Cigars contain far more tar and nicotine than cigarettes do and do not contain a filter
2. Cigars come into contact with the mouth for a much longer period of time than cigarettes causing more hand and mouth issues. Because of the cigar leaf fermentation process, the amount of cancer and toxic causing chemicals come in larger concentrations than cigarettes. This also pollutes the room atmosphere more with fine particles and Carbon Monoxide.
3. Even though there are shallower inhalations, cigar smokers still get lung cancer. But because the smoke still touches everything in the mouth: throat, tongue and oesophageal cancers are prevalent.
4. Studies have also shown that nicotine is nicotine whether it be in a cigar or cigarette and cigar smokers can becomes addicted as well as cigar smokers.
All pipe and cigar smokers have a greater risk of lung cancer than lifelong non-smokers or former smokers. BMJ 1997.
The levels when smoking cigars were similar to those when they were smoking cigarettes, showing that they continued to inhale. It is concluded that cigarette smokers who change to cigar smoking may not lower the risk to their health. The Lancet 1973.
…smoking of European cigars, cigarillos, and pipe tobacco might exert a carcinogenic effect on the lung comparable to that of cigarettes. JNCI 1999.
Low nicotine, low tar cigarettes- the myth.
Again, let’s go back to what people think. This time taking Q&A sites and community sites answers:
“less addictive not harmful”
“They are delicious and very refreshing. They have enough nicotine to satisfy me, but are not too strong, so I can smoke several in a row without a problem.” [I had to re-read this answer a few times and no, they weren’t kidding :)]”
“I KNOW, cigarettes are not healthy, but I mean non-additive, or at least a brand that uses real tobacco or has low nicotine”
“I heard American Spirits are very healthy”
Low nicotine and low tar cigarettes are supposed to have a reduced nicotine load and have fewer toxic chemicals. But as usual, they don’t work. In recent studies it was found that they increased nicotine consumption by 1/4 than the smokers own brand. With some of the newer brands, they also increased Carbon Monoxide levels by 30%. They also didn’t reduce cravings either.
Smokers take relief in using these cigarettes because they believe that they are being “healthier” however they also breathe more deeply and they smoke more, virtually upping their smoking habit.
[As a side note] American Spirits (which seem to dominate the media) advertise as “additive free tobacco” but federal regulation has said that they have to state on their packs that "no additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette." And research from German and US Government health teams have found significant levels of toxic chemicals even in completely pure additive free tobacco. Also, it is also worthy to note that Natural American is indirectly owned by British-American Tobacco- which is the worlds second largest tobacco company.
So when we do move onto how to quit I am not going to suggest moving on to these “safe” alternatives. There are other, much more potent and even more powerful methods to reduce your smoking…which are much healthier to your body and mind.
…encouraging the smoking of low-nicotine cigarettes may increase exposure to combustion products and not appreciably decrease exposure to nicotine, since the smokers increased the size of their puffs in response to the decreased nicotine yield. BMJ 1981.
We conclude that smokers of low-nicotine cigarettes do not consume less nicotine. The New England Journal Of Medicine 1983.
There was a significant increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure after smoking each high- and low-nicotine cigarette…There was a significant increase in heart rate after smoking each high- and low-nicotine cigarette…There was a significant increase in carbon monoxide level after smoking each high-, low-, and non-nicotine cigarette. Annals Of Internal Medicine 1971.7. So Far...The Best Treatment Methods Around