Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lifestyle Choices: Cigars

I was talking to a doctor this morning who was very interested in the work I do with Cancer a Research UK, especially the stuff regarding smoking. We had a really interesting talk about the difference between cigarettes and cigars and our discussion formed the inspiration for today's blog post. 

Cigarettes and Cigars: What's the Difference? 
The main differences between cigarettes and cigars is the size and the type of tobacco used as well as the fact that cigar smoke is often not inhaled.

Cigarettes are uniform in size. They contain less then a gram of tobacco each.

Cigars are primarily composed of an air cured and fermented type of tobacco with a tobacco wrapper. They vary in size and shape. They can contain between a gram and 20 grams of tobacco. 
*Large cigars can measure more then 7 inches and can contain between 5-20 grams of tobacco. Some premium brands can contain the tobacco equivalent of a whole packet of cigarettes. They can take between 1-2 hours to smoke. 
*Cigarillos are smaller and contain around 3 grams of tobacco.
*Little Cigars are normally the same size and shapes as cigarettes and are normally packaged just like them. They usually contain about 1 gram of tobacco and some of then have a filter which makes them designed to be smoked like cigarettes (meaning the smoke is inhaled) 

Are Cigars Addictive?
You can become addicted to cigars even if you do not inhale as there are high levels of nicotine which are absorbed into the body via the lining of the mouth if you don't inhale and via the lungs if you do. A single cigar has the potential to contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. 

Is Cigar Smoke Harmful?
Cigar smoke is just like cigarette smoke in that it contains toxic chemicals which can case cancer and are harmful to both smokers and non smokers.
It may be possible that cigarette smoke is more toxic then cigarette smoke for the following reasons: 
*A higher level of cancer causing substances - high concentrates of cancer causing nitrosamines are produced during the fermentation process for cigar tobacco. These are then released when a cigar is smoked.
*There is more cancer causing tar in for every gram of tobacco smoked in a cigar than in cigarettes. 
*Cigars have a less porous wrapper then cigarettes which means the burning of the tobacco less complete and this means there is a higher concentration of toxics than in cigarette smoke.  
*Cigars tend to be larger and the longer time it takes to smoke results in higher exposure to the toxic substances which include carbon monoxide, ammonia, cadmium and hydrocarbons to name a few.

Can Cigars Cause Cancer?
Smoking cigars can cause several cancer types including:
*Oral Cavity
Cigar smokers are also at risk of heart disease and lung disease, especially if they inhale. As with cigarettes, the more you smoke the more you put your health at risk. 

What About if You Don't Inhale? 
Unlike with cigarettes, most cigar smokers do not inhale. The risk of lung cancer, coronary heart disease and lung disease is lower for cigar smokers but is obviously higher then that of a non smoker. 
However, like cigarette smokers, those that smoke cigars expose their lips, mouth, tongue, throat and larynx to the toxic and cancer causing chemicals found in the smoke, whether they inhale or not. The chemicals found the smoke is also carried in the saliva to the oesophagus which is exposed to carcinogens. The risks for oral and oesophageal cancer risks tend to be similar between cigarette and cigar smokers.

I'm sitting next to my dad who is smoking a small cigar right now so he's about to get a bit of a lecture from me. But that is only because he's my dad and I get pushy with my family over these things. I am a non smoker myself but I am very careful not to judge anyone that smokes. It is your body to do what you wish with and I can imagine how hard if is to give up as I unable to give up my own addiction (sugar). The purpose of this blog post is to provide the information for you to do as I wish. 

To read more about the dangers of smoking I have a previous blog post with lots of information you can read here:

To read more about the way your body repairs itself when you give up smoking you can read this post:

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