Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Lungs

The History of Cigars

Cigars were once considered to be a status symbol of the elite, cigars have broken through to the mainstream and are becoming one of the most popular trends in America. Everyone -- from the President of the United States to university students -- seem to be puffing away.

According to a study done by the American Cancer Institute, as of 1977 more than 10 million people in America smoke cigars - up 70 percent from 1994.

Read the Philip Morris internal memo about the: First Cigar Lawsuit in History (1977)

Cigars as Cancer Sticks
People have the wrong perception of cigars as a healthy alternative to cigarettes. Medical researchers want you to understand this.

In an interview with Joe Vivian who runs the Tinder Box, a cigar shop in Coronado Mall, he highlighted this medical misperception. Vivian believes that "with cigars, you're talking about smoking the best of the worst." Further, Vivian said, "cigars are definitely healthier than cigarettes. Cigars are all natural, all handmade. The tobacco is cultured, and there is no chemicals involved."

Though fewer chemicals are used in producing premium cigars, they produce more carbon monoxide>, the carcinogen linked to several forms of cancer. Cigar smokers have a 34 percent higher cancer death rate than cigarette or pipe smokers.

UNM Health Educator Gayle Griffith says people are fooled too easily by the image that cigars are safer and can be safely smoked more frequently than cigarettes.

"That statement could not be further from the truth," Griffith says. "Cigars have much more nicotine than cigarettes and produce much more second-hand smoke (which has been linked to lung cancer by the American Lung Association). People who smoke cigars are at risk of getting mouth and throat cancer, and the person who smokes cigars will also absorb a lot more tar than if they smoked cigarettes."

The main substance in both cigars and cigarettes that makes quitting so difficult is nicotine. An average cigar an contain four times more nicotine than a cigarette. Nicotine raises levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which causes the buzz or mild high associated with smoking. Researchers say only five milligrams of nicotine a day is enough to cause addiction. The average cigar has 10 times that amount.

Smoke doesn't have to be inhaled for nicotine to get into the body. Unlike acidic cigarette smoke, cigar smoke is alkaline, which allows a certain level of nicotine and carbon monoxide to be absorbed directly through the mouth's lining. Cancers of the mouth, tongue, larynx and esophagus all are associated with cigar smoking.

Cigar smoking among women is increasing and being promoted by advertisers. Many cigar magazines show beautiful women or strong actresses, such as Demi Moore, smoking cigars. According to a pamphlet on cigar smoking found at the UNM Student Health Center, more women now are dying of lung cancer than breast cancer.

Women who smoke are three times more likely to get lung cancer than men and have twice the risk of cervical cancer. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives are at a particularly high risk for a stroke. The problems multiply if a women is smoking while she is pregnant.<

Over time, as a person becomes more exposed to nicotine, a physical change takes lace in the bran that affects mood and behavior. These changes can last for months or years and make quitting extremely difficult.


InfoImagination © 2000 -- All Rights Reserved