Tobacco lung cancer
As any cigar lover will tell you, cigars and cigarettes are in two different leagues. Cigarettes come with a warning label; cigars come with a fancy box. A cigarette might last five minutes; a good cigar can last an hour or more.
While cigarette smoking has steadily declined over the years; cigar smoking has become more popular, increasing by more than 33 percent between 1996 and 2006. And, of course, cigars have an aura of pomp and ceremony. Few people would celebrate a new baby with a pack of Winstons.
But cigars are dangerous. According to the National Institutes of Health, a cigar emits up to 90 times a cigarette's level of nitrosamines, which are potent cancer-causing compounds.
Thanks to clever marketing and magazines such as Cigar Aficionado, cigars have come to symbolize the good life. But some of the glamor has already started to fade, says Ron Todd, MS Ed, director of tobacco control for the American Cancer Society. "People are realizing that these are big, expensive things that stink, " he says. "Hopefully, more people will see through the fog of propaganda used to promote these things."
Advertising tries to hide cigars' biggest shortcoming: If lit up often enough, they can be deadly. Puffing a cigar to celebrate a new baby may be harmless, but just one cigar a day on a regular basis poses a serious threat to health, both to the smoker and anyone exposed to the secondhand smoke. If you regularly smoke cigars - or live with someone who does - you should take a close look at this highly toxic status symbol.
Cigars are essentially clumps of aged tobacco wrapped in a tobacco leaf. A premium cigar may hold as much tobacco as a whole pack of cigarettes. Because leaves are much less porous than cigarette paper, the tobacco in a cigar smolders. This slow burn releases a stew of compounds that's even more dangerous than cigarette smoke. In addition to nitrosamines, cigar smoke is loaded with tar, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.
The only saving grace is that most cigar smokers don't inhale. (Unlike cigarette smoke, cigar smoke doesn't need to reach the lungs to provide a nicotine kick.) For this reason, regular cigar smokers are only about twice as likely as people who don't smoke cigars to develop one type of cancer - lung cancer. By contrast, male cigarette smokers are 22 times as likely as nonsmokers to get lung cancer, and female smokers are 12 times as likely to develop it.