Both cigarettes and cigars are unhealthy, that's an indisputable fact.

But a lot of people seem to think that cigars are less unhealthy than cigarettes. There are pro-smoking websites that say cigars are better because you smoke fewer of them, they're all natural, and it's less harmful because you don't inhale. But some people do inhale. It seems to be a difficult comparison.

Are cigars less harmful than cigarettes?

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    Welcome to Health, JeffC! Please take the tour and read the help center. What are these products? What has your research on this shown you so far? Please help us help you, and document your findings. You may improve your question to comply with site guidelines with an edit and the help of How to Ask. Thanks! Feb 20 '18 at 22:33
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    Inhaling smoke from any source means you're inhaling hundreds of toxins. What else needs to be known?
    – Carey Gregory
    Feb 21 '18 at 2:44
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    I wanted to give at least a brief answer to this because it's a common misconception. So I edited the Q to meet site guidelines and to make it a less personal question - while still answering the root of your question. You may revert if desired, but that may end in question being closed, unless you edit it to meet guidelines as above. Cheers for caring about your brother's lungs. Consider your own, too, second hand smoke is a real thing.
    – DoctorWhom
    Feb 21 '18 at 4:01
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    @DoctorWhom Nice job.
    – Carey Gregory
    Feb 21 '18 at 5:09
  • People don't generally inhale cigars. The smoke is drawn into the mouth to taste it, and then blown out. Completely different than cigarettes that are drawn down into the lungs. How is this not reflected in any answers? Feb 22 '18 at 16:08

This is a common misconception - they're both terrible. Harm from smoke is mostly dose-dependent, meaning the more you smoke the worse harm you are causing your body.

But if we measure equivalent quantities of smoke inhaled, cigars are usually even worse. They often don't have a filter, there's higher nicotine content, more tar... cigarettes do have more added harmful ingredients, the list is a mile long, but they're both death sticks.

People incorrectly assume cigars aren't as bad because they smoke fewer of them, but they are bigger and pack more in them.

People incorrectly assume cigars aren't as bad because "it's all natural!" - but so are snake venom, poison ivy, and cyanide.

Even those who don't inhale cigars still have risks of cancer and all the other fun stuff.

So when asking "which of these two cancerous, pro-inflammatory, stroke-and-heart-attack-provoking items is worse for you?" the answer is: both.

Reputable references abound with a quick google:

  • Thank, this gives me something to work with. He assumes the odd cigar smoking is OK because he seems to think they're less harmful than cigarettes. I don't want him to smoke anything but it sounds like he has it backwards. Obviously I don't want him to smoke anything but if he is going to do it, I want him to be aware that cigars are NOT a green light and if anything more worse than cigarettes! I tried to tell him this. Also, he inhales his cigars.
    – tdelam
    Feb 21 '18 at 6:29
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    An "odd cigar" is different than daily - a weekly cigar would be less harmful than a pack of cigarettes a day, it's a dose-dependent (quantity) harm. But puff for puff, cigars pack a worse punch. Basically he shouldn't feel okay with it either way. If you're looking for actual harm reduction, vaping seems to not be as harmful as either of them. I'm of the school of thought that feels harm reduction is better than nothing.
    – DoctorWhom
    Feb 21 '18 at 9:41
  • Doesn't inhalation depth also factor into it? Generally (but not in the OP's case apparantly), you don't inhale cigars as deeply as cigarettes.
    – user13015
    Feb 22 '18 at 0:15
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    It touches on that in the articles, where in cigars people hold the smoke in their mouths mostly, but there are still lots of known harms with that.
    – DoctorWhom
    Feb 22 '18 at 1:18

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