Health risk cigars - 6 scientific facts

Health risk cigars. What is this topic looking for in an online cigar magazine? Let's get to the bottom of it. I asked 6 questions and received 6 scientific background information.

This topic was updated on 20 July 2023.

What is this topic looking for at Zigarren.Zone?

You may be thinking, "Why is Vasilij writing an article in his cigar online magazine about how harmful cigars could be?" That's a fair question. Personally, I think the health aspect is definitely something that concerns us cigar smokers. The WHO's goal is to have a zero percent smoking society. That is also the goal of Switzerland.

I interviewed five doctors. None wanted to be named in this article. This is understandable, because all these doctors like to puff cigars regularly (except one, he puffs about four a year). However, I received scientific background information, which I may use for this article.

The senior physician looked at me silently and insistently

Before I get to the scientific background information, let me tell you a quick story.

I was at an event (not a cigar event). A few attendees were puffing cigars outside and I joined them. Among them was a senior physician who puffs a few cigars a year. "Vasilij, do you know what cigars do to your body and how do you deal with them?"

I replied, "Yes, I know a little bit. It can cause mouth cancer, also throat cancer, even on my fingers I could get cancer. But the risk is much less than with cigarettes, and there the biggest risk is lung cancer."

"How often do you smoke cigars?" he continued. - "Usually about six a week," I replied. "When I write tasting reports, it's about 12 cigars a week. On average, about 10 cigars a week."

He looked at me silently and insistently. An uneasy feeling crept over me. "Did I say something wrong?" I asked him. - "No," he replied, "those are some real things you know, and you still consume cigars. That's your free choice, nobody forces you to puff cigars. For throat and mouth cancer, the risk is higher than cigarette smokers who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day. That refers to cigar smokers who smoke three to four cigars a day." Our cigar group fell silent. "Really?" someone asked. "Yes, really," the doctor replied. (Editor's note: See study under Resources on the topic: factsheet Cigars and Cigarillos, Switzerland, year 2018).

There are studies about cigars

He went on to say, "However, there is something else and it is interesting:

There are observations that cigar smoking may even have positive properties because it relaxes people. This winding down may be beneficial to health. But a doctor will never admit that publicly." - "May I quote you by name?" asked I without mincing words. - "No, not by name. But you may quote me."

Laughter in our cigar group. "There are no studies at all about how harmful cigars are," one of our group was indignant. "This health craze is unnecessary! If they want to ban cigar smoking, let them ban sugar and alcohol too!" Agreement in the group.

The senior physician held back and said simply: "There are studies about cigars. And the risks Vasilij mentioned are just a few of them. But just: There are also observations that cigar smoking relaxes, and that, in turn, can be beneficial for health."

Emotional discussion on the subject of health risk cigars

This topic causes emotional discussions from time to time. I would like to change the perspective a little bit. Away from denying (or not knowing) - that no studies consider cigars - and towards looking: What studies are there? What does that mean to me? Do I want to make changes?

What have I changed? Nothing. I have been using the following points since I opened the lounge in Liestal:

-> On the ceiling is a professional air purifier: 2 filters suck the smoke, clean the air and blow the air purified into the room. Link to this see under resources on the subject.

-> I additionally air: open the balcony door. In winter, I air about once an hour. In summer, when it is over 30 degrees, I also air about once an hour. When the temperatures are moderate, I have the balcony door open all the time.

Health risk cigars

Moment of pleasure cigar: light up, the first puff and then: shut down and relax.

6 Questions & 6 Answers

Health risk cigars: scientific background information

I received a written answer to my questions with scientific background information. Under Resources on the topic you can find more information about cigar studies.

Question 1: Is cigar smoking an addiction, like cigarette smoking?

Smoking cigars is also harmful to health. It increases the risk of several types of cancer, as well as diseases of the lungs and cardiovascular system. The smoke from cigars contains similar pollutants to those from cigarettes, sometimes even more. Cigars also contain the addictive nicotine.

The fact that cigars are usually puffed does not automatically lead to fewer health risks (at most others, in terms of cancers). Since cigars are usually consumed indoors, there is also the added risk of secondhand smoke. The mode of consumption of cigars versus cigarettes usually differs in the duration of consumption as well as the frequency. 

The Swiss Tobacco Products Ordinance designates cigars as tobacco products that are subject to the same provisions as other tobacco products for oral use. This also applies with regard to the warnings in pictures and text.

My comment: Regarding indoor cigar smoking; I like to be in a lounge as long as the smoke evacuation is excellent. As soon as it gets a little foggy for too long, I like to leave such a lounge. My eyes sting and water, and the air to breathe is very bad indeed. Excellent ventilation is also very important in private rooms. Get advice from a ventilation professional.

Question 2: Nicotine is absorbed through the mucous membranes. What happens in the body?

Nicotine reaches the brain within a few seconds after consumption. There it docks onto the acetylcholine receptors. This stimulates, for example, the increase in dopamine production. In the "reward center" of the brain, a feeling of well-being and calmness sets in. In other brain areas, nicotine increases alertness as well as attentiveness.

These processes in the brain lead to activation of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This leads to an increase in gastric juice production and intestinal activity (parasympathetic nervous system) or to an increase in heart rate and increased breakdown of fats and glycogen (sympathetic nervous system).

Nicotine can also lead to increased respiratory rate, increased sensitivity to pain, constriction of blood vessels (and consequent increased blood pressure), blood clotting tendencies, nausea, nausea, and decreased appetite.

The receptors in the brain demand nicotine replenishment after a short time. If this is not supplied, withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, irritability and lack of concentration can occur.

My comment on that: I find that interesting. Now I know why I feel good when I puff cigars. The nicotine flash is also mentioned. Yes, I know that. I had it a few times in my early days. Now I know how to puff cigars so that I don't get a nicotine flash.

Question 3: How to minimize potential harm from cigar smoking?

Outdoor cigar use reduces the dangers of the Passive smoking by diluting the smoke with fresh air.

Question 4: What is the difference between addictive gratification and cultivated enjoyment?

According to the known diagnostic criteria, tobacco dependence is present if three of the six criteria listed below have been present in the past 12 months:

1 - Strong desire or compulsion to use tobacco.

2 - Limited control over initiation, cessation, and quantity of consumption.

3 - Withdrawal symptoms upon reduction or cessation of use, and use to mitigate withdrawal symptoms.

4 - Development of tolerance: Increasingly higher doses are required to achieve a consistent effect.

5 - Increasing neglect of other activities and interests in favor of consumption.

6 - Continued consumption despite evidence of consequential harm.

My comment: I have never experienced three of these 6 criteria since I started enjoying cigars. What's it like for you? Please use the comment function at the end of this article. I occasionally recognize criterion 1 in myself (rarely); it is now and then in me a strong desire to enjoy a cigar. Until now, I thought that it was a matter of bringing about a relaxed time. If I think about it carefully, maybe it is a combination between "wanting to have relaxation" and "addiction."

Question 5: Hygiene: How do you clean your teeth (they discolor over time) and tongue? What do you do if you have bad breath?

A dentist or dental hygienist can certainly answer this question better for you. However, it is very likely that these specialists will recommend that you prevent such discoloration from occurring in the first place, i.e. that you stop consuming cigars. This would have positive effects not only on your oral health.

My comment: I asked my dentist. Teeth whitening can help. Depending on the discoloration of the teeth, you do it several times a year. I don't do that. As for the tongue and bad breath: my family doctor said bad breath is often due to poor diet. If it bothers you, you should see your family doctor. One cleans the tongue several times a day with a toothbrush or a tongue brush.

Question 6: It is claimed: The last quarter of the cigar is the highly toxic filter. What is meant by this?

The concentration of pollutants in the last quarter of the cigar have to do with the fact that the combustion process towards the end of the cigar takes place at higher temperatures and thus more pollutants (mainly carbon monoxide and tar) are released.

Conclusion from the answers

That is my personal insight: enjoyment with moderation is the right approach. I found the answers to the 4th question interesting: What is the difference between addictive gratification and cultivated enjoyment? Note my comment there as well.

I also found the answer at question 2 interesting; smoking cigars relaxes me and gives me a sense of well-being. However, I did not know why this happens. The answer to this question also mentions nicotine flash. Yes, I actually know this. Here is a Article about nicotine flash I wrote.

I also found the studies on cigars interesting; in particular, I found the 1999 study from Germany noteworthy (link below at Resources on the Topic).

Thank you for reading this article and I look forward to your comments. It remains for me to say: HAPPY SMOKE ~ Vasilij

Resources on the topic

Factsheet Cigars and Cigarillos, Switzerland, Year 2018

Germany, 1999 study, lung cancer risk from cigar, cigarillo and pipe smoking.

Swiss Tobacco Products Ordinance Switzerland smoke filter, same product in use at Zigarren.Zone, from CHF 3'000 or for rent

Smoke filter Europe, the same product that is in use at Zigarren.Zone

Article about nicotine flash at Zigarren.Zone I wrote

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  1. Nice post with exciting point of view.
    I enjoy an average of 2 cigars a week.
    For question 6, I'm sure I'm also among 2 of the 6 lucky.
    Interesting for me when I take time for me with my cigar I neglect yes logically OTHERS or OTHERS because I dedicate myself to yes the ONE, but a great exercise for me not always multi-track / mental to be on the road? Thanks again nice report!

    1. Hi Adi, thanks for your comment. Sure, it is a good exercise to focus on one thing. I wish you also furthermore ? HAPPY SMOKE ?

  2. Thank you for the exciting article. I think everyone must decide for themselves. I myself must also have good ventilation in a lounge and am rather in the summer outdoors to enjoy

    Happy holidays

  3. For those who understand English:
    Dr. William Douglass Health Benefits of Tobacco
    ISBN 10: 9962636434
    ISBN 13: 9789962636434
    Many studies have not been conducted seriously and have been misrepresented by the anti-tobacco lobby.
    According to the author, 3 cigars a day are not only harmless, but even beneficial to health.

    I can also recommend another book.

    Shaman Plant Tobacco Volume 1
    Christian Rätsch
    ISBN: 3-907080-79-3

    More about the use of the sacred tobacco plant from an ethnobotanical point of view.

    1. Hello Jorge, thank you very much for your valuable advice about the book. Unfortunately, my English is too weak. Regarding the misrepresentation of studies: sure, the bought scientists exist in every industry. One camp says "A" and the other camp says the opposite "Z". Also to you I wish further ? HAPPY SMOKE ?

  4. Yes, life holds some risks at every turn. But with reason it is easy to enjoy and maintain the joy of life.
    Very interesting article, thank you very much.

  5. Once again a very interesting contribution from you Vasilij. On the subject of addiction satisfaction or enjoyment. I can answer there no answer with yes. I think that with me it is really only about the enjoyment smoke I but also times weeks or months no cigars.

  6. Yes, I know about the potential damage. Yes, I hope that nothing happens and no, I do not want to stop now and then to enjoy a beautiful Cuba-nerin.
    Did I understand correctly in the study from D 1999 that 117 of the diseased never smoked while 104 of the diseased were cigar smokers!?!!

    1. Hi Georg, the study is a bit awkwardly written, true. 117 of the lung cancer patients never smoked. The 104 men with lung cancer only smoked pipe, cigarillos and cigars. This study refers only to lung cancer. Here, the number of diseased people is always much lower from our guild, than from cigarette smokers.

      However, for oral cancer types, the risk is much higher than for cigarette smokers; see the 2018 Swiss study. Thank you for using Cigars.Zone and ? HAPPY SMOKE ?