Straight, No Chaser: Cigar Smoking

cigar-and-golf

It’s the latest, greatest, coolest past-time.  Endorsed and practiced by celebrities the world over, cigar smoking has clearly and successfully marketed itself as a convenience of the successful.  Even the notion that the ‘best’ cigars are forbidden fruit (i.e. come from Cuba) adds to the allure if and when you’re able to wrap your lips around one.  I wasn’t surprised, but it’s worth noting that beyond the success stories received from those of you who have successfully stopped cigarette smoking, the next set of questions involved whether cigar smoking is a safe alternative.

Since you have little old me taking on an $8 billion a year industry and the wrath of the very passionate, I have no recourse but to arm myself with some data – cold, hard facts.

  • 49% of all cigars sold are large cigars.  A single large cigar contains as much tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes.
  • Cigar use is on the rise, with over 13 million people identifying as current users.
  • 15% of male students in grades 9-12 are current users.
  • African-Americans have the highest rate of cigar smoking (among ethnicities/races), with a 7.7% user rate.

You want to know the effects of cigar smoking?  Let’s cut to the chase.

mouth_cancer_cr

Here are the five “SURGEON GENERAL WARNING” text-only labels, one of which must be displayed on all cigar packaging and advertisements.  This is done on a rotating basis.

  1. Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth and Throat, Even if You Do Not Inhale.
  2. Cigar Smoking Can Cause Lung Cancer and Heart Disease.
  3. Tobacco Use Increases the Risk of Infertility, Stillbirth and Low Birth Weight.
  4. Cigars Are Not A Safe Alternative To Cigarettes.
  5. Tobacco Smoke Increases The Risk of Lung Cancer And Heart Disease, Even In Nonsmokers. 

Beyond what the Surgeon General requires, here are some additional facts:

  • All tobacco smoke contains more than 60 chemicals that can cause cancer, and cigar smoke is no exception.
  • Regular cigar smoking increases your risk for the following cancers: lung, esophagus, larynx (your voice box), and oral cavity (lips, tongue, mouth and throat).
  • Cigar smoking is linked to gum disease and tooth decay and loss.
  • In addition to lung cancer, heavy cigar smoking increases the risk for emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Fidel-Castro-smoking-ciga-001

The bottom line?

Cigar smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.

There is no level of cigar smoking that does not pose health risks.

As always, it’s not my chore to convince you to do or not to do; freedom of choice is a beautiful thing.  That said, be advised that if you read this blog, you will be an informed consumer.

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