Why cigars can be just as dangerous as cigarettes

The view that cigar smoking is a glamorous luxury is driving a new interest in an age-old danger to oral health.

Once something for older men, cigar smoking is even common with teens, as 7% of South Dakota high school students report having smoked one in the last 30 days. That they’re available in flavors and sold individually may make them more appealing for kids.

Unfortunately, this habit can lead to oral health problems. It's addictive and can be just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. Teens are especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction. 

Cigars can damage your smile

More than 75% of people diagnosed with oral cancer after age 50 use or have used tobacco. Regular cigar smokers also increase their risk for other serious oral health problems.

  • Cigar smokers are 4 to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the mouth, esophagus and larynx than non-smokers.
  • Smoking cigars triples their rate of developing moderate to severe gum disease.
  • They often have badly stained teeth and chronic bad breath.

Cigars contain more tobacco than cigarettes

While cigarette tobacco is wrapped in paper, cigar tobacco is wrapped in more tobacco, often a tobacco leaf. A large cigar can contain as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes. Because nicotine in cigar smoke is absorbed through tissues lining the mouth, cigars can be addictive – even when the smoke is not inhaled.

In addition to cancer and gum disease, cigar smoking may increase the risk of heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Because they contain the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds as cigarettes, cigars can be very dangerous to your oral and overall health. When you quit smoking, your mouth and body will start to heal and you can lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and more.

The SD QuitLine offers FREE support through counseling, nicotine patches and gum, and other services to help you or those you love to quit any tobacco for good.

*Updated March 2023