Are Cigars Better Than Cigarettes?
If You Don't Inhale You Won't Get Hurt, Right? Wrong.
The idea that cigar smokers usually don't inhale the tobacco smoke has a tendency to generate the thought that cigars are likely less dangerous to smoke than cigarettes. While there are differences in the absorption of deadly chemicals into the body, the net effect is the same. The addictive substance in tobacco is nicotine, and it is present in all tobacco-including cigars. If a cigar smoker inhales the smoke, the nicotine present in that smoke is absorbed into the lungs just as quickly as cigarette smoke is absorbed.
If a cigar smoker does not inhale, it simply means the nicotine is absorbed more slowly through the lining in the mouth where the cigar smoke dissolves more easily in the saliva. This means that a cigar smoker can get the nicotine hit he desires without inhaling the smoke into his lungs. Spit tobacco absorbs the same way as cigar tobacco so users obtain their dose similarly. Regardless, nicotine in any form is not only highly addictive, but also highly hazardous to a person's health.
Cigars Pack A Bigger Bang Than Cigarettes
A comparison of cigars to cigarettes shows that one cigar carries multiple times the amount of nicotine than the amount found in several cigarettes. One cigarette carries between one and two milligrams of nicotine while most cigars hold between 100 and 200 milligrams, even up to as much as 444 milligrams of nicotine per cigar. The amount of nicotine which is actually absorbed into the body varies with cigar smokers and depends upon such considerations as the duration of time smoking the cigar, the number of puffs taken and whether or not the smoker inhales.
"Little Cigars" Are Like Cigarettes
Since the smoking variance is so great among cigar smokers, it has been nearly impossible to determine any amounts for nicotine delivery from cigar smoking. However, Health Canada has estimated that the "little cigars" which are filtered and are the same size as cigarettes and are generally favored by youth, contain about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette and, if inhaled, would deliver similar quantities of nicotine. There are no hard numbers in this regard yet and further testing is needed.
Cancer Risks Of Cigar Smoking
Cigar smoke carries with it the same dangers for cancer and a few extras, as does cigarette smoke. The risk of lung, lip, tongue, mouth, and throat cancer is increased as is cancer of the esophagus and larynx (voice box). Studies have indicated that people who smoke cigars regularly are four to ten times more likely to die from oral cancers than non-smokers and if a person inhales cigar smoke, the risk of dying from pancreatic and bladder cancer is also increased.
Both the number of cigars smoked in a day and the method of smoking affect risk. Smoking a cigar in one hour is like smoking an entire package of cigarettes in the same amount of time. The more cigars smoked or inhaled, the higher the risk. While the health risks inherent in occasional cigar smoking are not known, the fact that tobacco delivers nicotine to the body means there is danger attached to the practice.