Cigar Versus Cigarette Smoking: Which Is Worse?

There are no buts about it – smoking is bad for you. We all know that, but for those who crave a smoke every once in a while, is there a less harmful option between cigars and cigarettes? There are many myths regarding the differences between these two smoking options. In this article, we’ll set the record straight.

Differences Between Cigars And Cigarettes

To figure out whether cigars or cigarettes are worse for your health, it’s important to first understand the differences between these two smoking options. The following are some of the key differences between cigars and cigarettes:

  • Size: Cigars are much larger than cigarettes, with some measuring over 7 inches in length.
  • Time: Since cigars are so much larger than cigarettes, they take longer to smoke. With larger cigars, it takes about 1 to 2 hours to smoke one. Cigarettes are generally smoked in less than 10 minutes.
  • Filters: Most cigars do not have filters, while cigarettes do.
  • Inhaling: Those who smoke cigarettes inhale the smoke into their lungs. Cigar smokers generally do not inhale the smoke; they let it sit in their mouth and throat instead.
  • Tobacco types: Cigarettes are made from different blends of unfermented tobaccos. Cigars, on the other hand, are made from a single type of fermented and air-cured tobacco.
  • Tobacco amounts: Cigarettes generally contain less than 1 gram of tobacco each. A cigar typically contains about 5 to 20 grams of tobacco.
  • Wrapper: Cigars have less porous wrappers than cigarettes, which makes the burning of the tobacco inside less complete.
  • Tar: Cigars have more tar per gram of tobacco smoked when compared to cigarettes.

Possible Dangers

The differences between cigars and cigarettes listed above account for many of the reasons that cigars are actually worse for you than cigarettes in most cases. First of all, the ingredients in cigars are in such larger quantities that many cigar smokers don’t realize the impact. For example, it could take 15 to 20 cigarettes to equal the same amount of tobacco in one large cigar. Therefore, regular cigar smokers often don’t realize that their habit could be the equivalent of smoking a pack a day – or more.

(If you’re trying to kick the habit, read Tips On How To Quit Smoking As Soon As Possible.)

Secondly, the size of the cigar accounts for much more exposure to second-hand cigar smoke. In addition to the cigar smoke that goes inside a smoker’s mouth and throat, many of these individuals sit in a cigar smoke-filled area for an hour or more while they smoke. In addition to that, it can take hours for that smoke to dissipate inside someone’s home. This second-hand smoke contains dozens of cancer-causing chemicals, some of which occur in higher quantities than in cigarette smoke. This is partially due to the cigars’ nonporous wrappers which lead to an increase in toxin concentration.

The process by which cigars are made also makes them a health hazard. The fermentation process used for cigar tobacco leads to high concentrations of nitrosamines, which can cause cancer.

Despite this information, cigarettes are just as bad for you. Both cigars and cigarettes can cause numerous types of cancer, including cancer of the lungs, mouth, tongue and esophagus. In addition, oral diseases such as gum disease may occur as the result of smoking. Cardiovascular diseases like heart disease, coronary artery disease, COPD and emphysema are much more common among smokers than non-smokers.

Myths About Cigars

Many cigarette smokers try smoking cigars because they believe they are less harmful. However, most of the myths about cigars aren’t true. For example:

  • Cigars aren’t addictive. Cigars contain high levels of nicotine, which is the chemical that causes addiction. You can still get nicotine in your system even if you don’t inhale the smoke into your lungs because it is also absorbed through the lining in the mouth.
  • Not inhaling makes them safer. Cigar smokers usually don’t inhale the smoke. However, that just means that they are more likely to get cancer in their lips, mouth, tongue or throat instead of in their lungs. The health risks still exist and the smoker is still exposed to cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Cigars don’t have Surgeon General’s health warnings, so they are safer. Unfortunately, cigars are not regulated in the same way as cigarettes. Many are sold without any health warning label, particularly those which are imported. This lack of regulations can actually lead to cigars being more hazardous to your health than cigarettes.

It’s important to remember that, even if cigars are often worse for your health compared to cigarettes, neither of these smoking options are good for you. Both products are highly addictive and there is no safe level of tobacco use. There are several ways you can get help to quit smoking, including the Cancer.gov website (link below).

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