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Cigars a Safe Habit Substitute

Updated on September 20, 2012
Addictive habits are found in many places and come in many forms throughout the globe.
Addictive habits are found in many places and come in many forms throughout the globe. | Source

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It is known there is cancer risk with inhalation of anything you can find to smoke. However, if one smokes no more than 1-2 cigars a week and does not inhale, it appears cigar smoking and the health risks associated with casual cigar smoking is low. And likely a safe substitute “in the minds of many” when comparing to other addictive smoker habits. So enjoy the casual cigar without fear of health risk by substituting one habit for another, right?

Now just because I made that statement does not mean I’m supporting cigar smoking. Instead, I’m going to pass on the pros and cons of this one particular habit and potential impact on health; because there are many out there that believe cigars are not bad for your health, just like weed (cannabis) and smokeless tobacco. However, by making a comparison to other similar addictive habits and risk on health, I’m sure you can further assess whether or not the occasional cigar is going to be a problem for you.

If we want to study the pros first, it must be mentioned that before smoking was determined bad on health, tobacco was at one time used medicinally. But in the same light it is assured smoking cigars will not cure cancer.

It is argued by cigar smokers and other proponents for cigars that since they help one to relax, there is a physical and mental benefit. And those two benefits are thought to help lower blood pressure, control weight and relax the body. But like anything we do in life moderation is also very important; especially when we look at frequency, duration of use and chemical doses of any particular addictive drug habit.

So it is likely if you become a casual cigar smoker, it is very possible you could become a moderate and then chronic cigar smoker. And everything above casual cigar smoking then would increase your risk of ill-health disease, right? Since we’ve not yet covered the specifics with regard to cigar smoking, for some it would be hard to see the forest through the trees “i.e., level of ill-health risk vs. health benefits.” So let’s further dissect this line of reasoning while also making comparisons of leaf products and known adverse impacts on health with repeated use.

The Cancer Association and medical doctors cannot confirm whether or not the occasional cigar smoker is immune from health risk because the health risks associated with casual smoking are unknown, unlike habitual tobacco use. Obviously, if you decide to enjoy a good cigar; understand and consider you may be increasing your risk to acute to chronic ill-health conditions later in life.

Now let’s take a look at the cons to regular cigar smoking. It is known that smoking certain types of cigars can have up 7 times the nicotine as one cigarette. Nicotine is an addictive ill-health element that causes “many” to become more than just a casual smoker. And even if you don’t inhale, the nicotine finds its way through the lining tissues of your mouth and into your entire body.

Let’s break down the damage to the body that “any” type of smoking can have on our physiology because of “3 common” and dangerous known chemicals contained within “smoked” products (carbon monoxide, tar and nicotine). As a point of interest for the cannabis smoker there are “like” dangerous by-products received similar to smoking tobacco: carbon monoxide and the tar-like substance (resin) and addictive weed chemical compounds (cannabinoids).

For some you’ll want to get into a debate and differences of tobacco leaf tar vs. cannabis resin and nicotine vs. weeds THC and other cannabinoids, or cannabis medicinal benefits… this is not the focus here. The focus here is to understand the tar found in tobacco leaf shares similar characteristics to cannabis resin contributing similar ill-health effects on the respiratory system(s). Also weeds cannabinoid(s) are very addictive like nicotine. And smoking any leaf product introduces carbon monoxide into your body.

The tar-like component(s) prevents the lungs from properly reproducing and repairing themselves, that eventually through repeated use causes major damage to the lungs.

The carbon monoxide received from “all” plant sources once lit and inhaled contributes to the non-oxygenated blood environment it creates during use. And the reason this causes so many health complications is because carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin of the red blood cells. And when this occurs oxygen cannot feed cell tissues enough oxygen to maximally sustain it during the period of consumer use. At some point, cells begin to die for lack of adequate oxygen, and cellular death occurs more rapidly as frequency and duration of use increases. When too many cells and vital organs begin to die, disease and cancer presents itself at accelerated rates followed by premature death.

And if we simply single out the nicotine that is absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream the physiological risk impressed upon our entire body increases. This is because there is an ill-health correlation with frequent ingestion of nicotine: i.e., hardening of the arteries, potential for heart attack, infertility, stroke, and heart disease and cancer. So now that you have this information, some of you may consider a smokeless tobacco, or nicotine tablet, etc. But in the case of smokeless tobacco it has nicotine, and many other dangerous chemicals just like other tobacco products that you smoke. Even though you can cut out the carbon monoxide and tar on lungs through smokeless tobacco use or nicotine products, the nicotine and other cancer producing chemicals still put your health at risk with repeated use.

It is enlightening for many once they understand tobacco contains greater than 60 chemicals known to cause cancer. This is near equivalent across the board when comparing cigarettes to cigars and smokeless tobaccos. And with increased cigar smoking frequency and duration “even if you don’t inhale, or chew tobacco” increases your odds of contracting oral (tooth loss and gum, mouth, tongue disease and cancer), also potential lip, throat, esophagus, and stomach and larynx diseases.

Now if we focus on the respiratory system(s) specifically, regardless of whether you partially or fully inhale “any” smoker’s products increase your odds of contracting various circulatory and/or cardiovascular diseases: E.g., heart, lung, coronary artery diseases to include COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

If you are a cigarette smoker and believe if you quit and substitute a nicotine habit for another to reduce your health risk, think again. It has been observed cigarette smokers that switch to cigars because they believe them to be safer, typically inhale and receive higher doses of the addictive nicotine. And since cigars unlike cigarettes burn longer (duration) and are no different than cigarettes other than their size, the addictive draw to smoke them is great.

For those looking to quit smoking cigarettes, the cigar habit will not help you with your nicotine addiction. As a matter of fact, most that switch from cigarettes to cigars tend to smoke with longer duration and frequency, also further increase their ill-health risk potential because of the increased dosages of the addictive nicotine.

Although I started out minimizing cigar smoking for the casual smoker, it appears an occasional cigar in all likelihood is not going to have a significant impact on one’s health. However, not anyone of us knows what we’ll become addicted to. And it is said that nicotine is just as, or has a greater addictive draw than heroin! It is for this reason that the only safe level of cigar smoking, or “any” type of smoking, is “not” to use any form of these product(s) at all.


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    • woodamarc profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Thanks for the comments Billrrr and kj force. I agree the stink of a cigar is pretty disgusting. And to tell you the truth, there's nothing great about the taste of the things no matter how good their suppose to taste. Guess it's an acquired taste just like those that enjoy a good scotch. I consider myself fortunate I don't have a desire for either vice.

    • kj force profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      woodamarc..very interesting and well written hub..also an interesting take on anything that is foreign, pipe/cigar/cigarettes constant contact with the mouth/mucus membranes,irritatation can cause sores to develop, which may become cancerous...there are more additives and changes in "smoke" products through the years, which may be a contributing factor..thank you for sharing the info.

      have a great week-end.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Of all the stenches on earth, I believe the stink of a cigar is the worst. How anyone can stand to be near a cigar smoker is incomprehensible. Back in the old days - the 1950s - many famous men did smoke cigars. Among them were George Burns and Jack Benny. Back then smoking did not have the stigma that it does today. I thought your hub was very well written and researched and I am voting it up.


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