Risks of Cigar Smoking

By Jenny E
Cigars pose a host of dangers.
smoken cigar image by Bradlee Mauer from Fotolia.com

Cigars, just like cigarettes, pose a host of dangers. Cigars differ from cigarettes in size and the blend of tobacco. While cigarettes are made from different blends, cigars are usually made from one type. The main difference between cigars and cigarettes is in the amount of tobacco they contain. Most cigarettes contain less than 1 gram of tobacco while some premium cigars contain up to 20 grams, as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS)

Environmental tobacco smoke, non-smokers
Cigar image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com

Environmental tobacco smoke is used to describe the second-hand smoke that comes from cigarette or tobacco smoke. This is because ETS is just as deadly to non-smokers as smoking is to smokers. This is especially true when non-smokers inhale smoke from cigars. Due to the fact that the tobacco in cigars packs a lot of punch, the smoke from them is much more concentrated. Higher levels of dangerous chemicals are emitted with the smoke, such as arsenic, cadmium, ethylene oxide and vinyl chloride. Tobacco smoke also contains toxins and irritants such as hydrogen, nicotine, ammonia and tar. Tobacco smoke also takes very long to dissipate; it can linger in the air for up to five hours.

Cancer

Cigar smoking causes cancer.
cigar image by PaulPaladin from Fotolia.com

Cigars emit many times more ammonia, cadmium, methylethyl nitro-samine and up to 80 times more carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines, all of which are cancer-causing substances. This has been attributed to the process for producing cigars. Cigar tobacco undergoes a lengthy fermentation and aging process, leading to higher levels of nitrate in the tobacco. Also, cigar wrappers are nonporous; this makes the combustion of tobacco in cigars more incomplete than that in cigarettes. This is why cigar smoking carries the risk of different types of cancer, like esophageal, pancreatic and oral cavity cancers. These risks go up with the number of cigars smoked per day.

Emphysema

Cigar smoking, emphysema
hand holding a cigar image by circotasu from Fotolia.com

Emphysema is a serious and irreversible lung disease mainly caused by smoking. Emphysema leads to the gradual destruction of alveoli and surrounding lung tissues, causing extreme difficulty in breathing. Cigar smokers usually do not inhale the cigar smoke and this makes them less susceptible to emphysema than cigarette smokers. However, the risk for contracting emphysema is still significantly high, especially for the few who do inhale. Emphysema lung damage due to smoking can only be halted by stopping smoking. After that, the condition can only be managed because the damage done by emphysema cannot be undone.