Cigar vs Cigarette: Differences and Health Risks

There is always an ongoing debate, about which is a better choice cigar or cigarette. But often people are confused are cigars bad for you or do cigars have nicotine.


Some people consider smoking cigars a glamorous luxury and buy premium products for cigar evenings. Even though it was once more popular with older men, smoking a cigar has now become quite popular with teens, too. Some people smoke it with the belief that it is safer than cigarettes. But both come with equal health risks.

Impact on Health

People engage in smoking for a variety of reasons, ranging from ritualistic and social purposes to personal enjoyment and relaxation. Excessive smoking can hamper your health. Thus, it is important to understand their differences before making an informed decision.

A cigar is a product comprised of tobacco carefully rolled within a tobacco leaf or an alternative material that contains tobacco. Upon initial observation, distinct differences in size and outer wrappings of cigars became readily apparent. It is important to note that cigars utilize a different type of tobacco, setting them apart from cigarettes.
A cigarette consists of tobacco rolled in paper and typically maintains a consistent thickness, with only minor differences noticeable among various brands. Each cigarette contains approximately 10 mg of nicotine. Cigarettes burn for a relatively short time.

But it is necessary to dispel the myth that the cigar is a safer alternative to cigarettes. In stark contrast to popular belief, cigars are not a safer option. On the contrary, they pose greater harm to individuals, even to those who do not deliberately inhale the smoke.

As per the National Cancer Institute, Trusted Source, it is crucial to recognize that cigar smoke comprises toxic and cancer-causing substances that pose significant risks to both smokers and nonsmokers. These harmful chemicals found in cigar smoke may surpass the toxicity levels of cigarette smoke.

Here we will focus on the effects of both products on an individual’s health.

Cigar vs Cigarette: Composition and Size Differences

Cigarettes, in their typical composition, consist of finely cut tobacco leaves meticulously rolled in paper. In pursuit of enriching flavor, and aroma, and ensuring consistent burning, manufacturers often incorporate supplementary additives into cigarettes. These additives encompass filters, paper chemicals, and flavorings, among others. Notably, the specific additives utilized can differ among various brands, with the inclusion of substances such as menthol or various flavorings.

Cigars are meticulously crafted using whole tobacco leaves, which undergo a process of fermentation and aging to cultivate their distinctive flavors and attributes. Unlike cigarettes, cigars typically do not incorporate additional chemicals or flavorings. Additionally, the absence of filters in cigars permits smokers to savor the full-bodied taste of the tobacco itself.

Cigars exhibit discernible variations in size and shape, notably larger and thicker compared to cigarettes. Cigars offer a diverse range of shapes, including Parejo, Figurado, and Presidente. Parejo cigars feature a straight cylindrical design, while Figurado cigars showcase irregular or tapered shapes, and Presidente cigars are characterized by their large and thick dimensions. These distinctive sizes and shapes play a pivotal role in shaping the overall smoking experience, affording enthusiasts a longer and more leisurely smoke, and promoting a sense of relaxation and enjoyment.

On the other hand, cigarettes present a distinct contrast in size and shape. They are noticeably smaller and display a uniform shape with an average length of approximately 85mm and a consistent diameter. The compact nature of cigarettes allows for rapid consumption, rendering them suitable for shorter smoking breaks.

Smoking Techniques: Cigar vs Cigarette

Do you inhale cigars like cigarettes? The smoking techniques vary with each. Cigarettes are intentionally crafted for rapid consumption. It lasts for only a few minutes. Smokers inhale the smoke directly and the inhalation process drives the smoke deeper into the human respiratory system. Thus, it facilitates the absorption of nicotine and other chemical compounds.

Cigars, in clear distinction, are purposefully crafted to offer prolonged and contemplative smoking encounters. The smoking duration ranges from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on its size. While smoking cigars, individuals draw the smoke into their mouths, allowing them to savor the richness of the flavor. Unlike cigarettes, inhaling cigar smoke into the lungs is not customary. Instead, smokers permit the smoke to linger in their mouths, indulging in its complexities before exhaling.

Health Risks Associated with Cigars and Cigarettes

When it comes to health risks, people question, are cigars worse than cigarettes or do cigars cause cancer? According to research conducted by the Cancer Institute, the health risks linked to both cigarette and cigar use are intricately connected to the frequency of consumption.

In simple words, the difference in health risks posed by smoking cigarettes and cigars depends not on the choice of tobacco product but on the frequency of consumption. This pivotal factor is indicative of the seriousness of one’s risk. Individuals who engage in daily cigarette consumption face significantly higher risks of developing lung cancer compared to those who indulge in cigars occasionally.

There is compelling evidence that suggests the presence of more carcinogens in cigars compared to cigarettes. Furthermore, research suggests that cigar smoke may exhibit higher toxicity levels when contrasted with cigarette smoke. Much of this variance can be attributed to the larger size of cigars, leading to the production of a greater volume of smoke during combustion.

Facts about Smoking: Social Context and Cultural Differences

Cigar smoking is commonly regarded as a refined and sophisticated practice in comparison to cigarette smoking. It is intriguing to observe that cigars enjoy a higher level of popularity within the United States than in other parts of the world, with approximately 2.2% of adults embracing this activity. The discerning demographic breakdown underscores a notable preference among men, signifying an avenue for cultural appreciation.

The prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults in the United States stubbornly remains at a staggering 21%. Despite efforts over the years, it seems that this harmful habit is reluctant to fade away. The slight decline since the 1960s offers little solace, as the grip of cigarette smoking on society remains firm.

Regrettably, cigarette smoking is widely disapproved of by many, and it is often viewed as a less sophisticated vice when compared to the refined practice of cigar smoking. This unfortunate reality reflects a cultural disparity in attitudes toward different forms of tobacco consumption.

The concerning aspect lies in the disproportionate emphasis placed on the health risks associated with cigarette smoking, driven by its inexplicably higher popularity when compared to cigars.

Cigars vs. Cigarettes: Are Cigars Worse Than Cigarettes?

Imagine a realm where cigars and cigarettes share common ground, both exposing you to the captivating charm of smoking. While cigars boast of their distinct character, it’s time to shatter the misconception that they are a safer indulgence. Cigars contain nicotine like cigarettes. So, it answers your question, is there nicotine in cigars. It can lead to tobacco dependence.

But here’s where the plot thickens! Inhaling cigar smoke can whisk you away on a nicotine-filled adventure, just like a thrilling puff from a cigarette. And the twists keep coming! Beware of secondhand smoke; it’s no ordinary bystander. Whether it wafts from cigars or cigarettes, it carries a mystical mix of toxic chemicals, casting an ethereal haze upon the air.

Take heed of the health risks lurking in this cigar smoke. Cancer, a formidable foe, may manifest its dark magic in various forms, a haunting menace for both cigar and cigarette enthusiasts. The throat, mouth, larynx, and esophagus may become battlegrounds against this insidious force.

Let’s not forget the perils lurking in the realm of respiratory health, where the specters of chronic bronchitis and emphysema may haunt those who tread the path of regular cigar smoking.

The risks of cigars, while not to be taken lightly, may dance to a gentler tune compared to the relentless rhythm of cigarettes. Picture this: an average of five cigars a day leads you to a realm of risk akin to someone dancing to the tune of a packet of cigarettes daily.

Comparison Table

Aspect Cigars Cigarettes
Size Bigger and thicker than cigarettes Smaller and thinner than cigars
Duration Last longer when smoked Last shorter when smoked
Tobacco content Contain more tobacco than cigarettes Contain less tobacco than cigars
Wrapping Wrapped in a tobacco leaf or a material containing tobacco Wrapped in paper or a material that does not contain tobacco
Filter Tend to be unfiltered Most have filtered ends
Nicotine content Can have up to 100-200 milligrams of nicotine Average eight milligrams of nicotine
Smoke inhalation Typically left in the mouth Inhaled into the lungs
Nicotine absorption Pass nicotine through the tissues in your mouth Absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream is much higher


  • Are You Supposed to Inhale Cigars?

No, you should inhale cigar smoke. It is essential to keep in mind that cigar smoking requires a distinct approach. Unlike cigarettes, cigars are meant to be enjoyed without inhaling the smoke. The art lies in savoring each moment with finesse. Picture this: you cradle the cigar delicately, admiring its exquisite form. The process begins with a gentle touch, igniting the spark that awakens the tobacco’s rich and full-bodied essence.

As you bring the cigar to your lips, time seems to slow down. A mindful draw fills your mouth with a symphony of flavors, each note dancing on your taste buds. Here, patience is a virtue – let the smoke weave its magic, lingering in your mouth for a few exquisite seconds.

  • How to Smoke a Cigar?

To start smoking your cigar, you first have to make a choice. But don’t just cut it yet as you have to ensure you have cut it. After cutting the cap of the cigar, you can get ready to light it up. You might be tempted to light a cigar like a cigarette, with its flame lighting the cigar’s end while you puff lightly. But while smoking a cigar it is advisable to refrain from inhaling the smoke. This is because doing so can negatively affect the aroma and flavor of the cigar. Once the cigar is properly lit and toasted, you are prepared to begin the smoking experience. Seasoned cigar smokers recommend the practice of puffing out the initial smoke before inhaling the first draw.

  • Are Cigars Bad for You?

Cigar smoking is associated with significant health risks due to the presence of cancer-causing substances, such as tar, akin to those found in cigarettes. The chemicals inherent in cigar smoke are equally harmful, and engaging in regular cigar smoking markedly increases the susceptibility to various types of cancers. Furthermore, consistent cigar consumption can elevate the risk of developing lung diseases and heart disease, further underscoring the detrimental impact on overall health.

Bottom Line

The majority of cigar smokers tend to have an aversion to cigarettes. Similarly, while some cigarette smokers may occasionally indulge in cigars, it is uncommon to encounter individuals who enjoy both practices equally. Numerous factors contribute to the appeal of cigar smoking beyond the taste and aroma. Smoking a cigar serves as an excellent means of relaxation and a way to commemorate various special occasions.

The primary motivation behind cigarette smoking lies in satisfying an addiction. Cigarettes can be best described as nicotine delivery devices, laden with addictive chemicals and burning agents specifically designed to trigger a craving for subsequent consumption.

Cigar smoking is a distinct practice wherein the smoke is not inhaled; rather, the focus lies in savoring the flavor and aroma. While cigars do contain nicotine, a natural component found in tobacco plants, they are devoid of any additives or burning agents. Esteemed cigar manufacturers staunchly disapprove of employing artificial ingredients or processes in crafting their products. As a result, cigars are regarded as organic in their purest form.

The distinctive preferences between cigar and cigarette smokers underscore the different purposes and experiences associated with each form of smoking.

Making the decision to quit smoking is the best choice for a healthier future. As we mentioned earlier, the quitting smoking timeline can be extremely helpful for smokers who are already on the path to quitting.