Cigarette smoking is known to cause cancer of the lung, oral cavity, larynx and esophagus, as well as cardiovascular diseases. Those who smoke cigars to excess or inhale deeply are also at risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The health risks associated with occasional cigar smoking (less than once a day) are less clear. Cigars contain the same addictive, toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes and emit second-hand smoke, which is also dangerous.
Recent studies have shown that long-term cigar smokers have a higher risk of mortality from esophageal cancer than short-term smokers, but there is no clear trend in terms of the number of cigars smoked per day or in terms of inhalation. Cigarette smoke, like cigar smoke, contains toxic cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and non-smokers. While cigar smokers have lower rates of lung cancer, coronary heart disease, and lung disease than cigarette smokers, they have higher rates of these diseases than those who don't smoke cigars. Both former and current smokers were more likely than ever to use smokeless tobacco (snuff or chewing tobacco).The American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II (1982 to 1999*) showed that regular cigar smokers and cigarette smokers have similar levels of risk for oral cavity and esophageal cancers.
Current cigar smokers who smoked three or more cigars a day, who reported having inhaled tobacco smoke, or who had smoked cigars for 25 years or more had a substantially higher risk of mortality from lung cancer than men with lower exposure to cigarettes. These findings are important because of the recent resurgence of smoking in the United States and because prospective data on smoking and cancer are limited. The increase in the prevalence of the disease observed among former cigar smokers, but not current ones, in this study may partly reflect the cessation of smoking after the onset of the disease. It is important to note that smoking cigars can cause many of the same health problems as cigarettes, but less information is available on the prevalence of consumption trends and the burden of disease associated with smoking in the U. S. Therefore, it is important for women to be aware of the potential health risks associated with cigar smoking.