Cigars: New smoking chic, old smoking risks?
June 10, 1996
Web posted at: 4:20 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Andrew Holtz
ATLANTA (CNN) -- As cigarette smoking has become increasingly taboo in many public places, cigars have become the newest trend in socially "acceptable" tobacco products.
What used to be an older man's cigarette has expanded its market, selling to younger professionals, women and those who would not consider cigarette smoking. Many who have started smoking cigars have done so to avoid the health problems associated with cigarettes.
But do cigars bypass these health problems and offer smokers a risk-free smoking experience? Experts are warning smokers that many of the health hazards involved in cigarette smoking are multiplied by cigar smoking.
"Oral cancer, lung cancer, various other organs, colon and rectal cancer, bladder cancer ... all of those are increased several-fold in cigar smokers and pipe smokers relative to non-smokers," said Dr. Kenneth Melby of St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta.
Other sources add emphysema, asthma and heart disease to the list of health problems tied to cigar smoking.
Stan Piper, who smoked cigarettes before switching to cigars, knows first-hand the problems smoking can bring. He blames smoking for the cancer and other lung disease that eventually led to his current situation: he breathes through a hole in his throat and speaks with the help of a device that processes the sounds that his vocal chords cannot. (Piper explains his condition. (162K AIFF or WAV sound)
While others downplay the effects of an occasional smoke, Piper compares smoking to putting sand in a jar one grain at a time. Eventually, Piper says, the insignificant-seeming pieces of sand add up to a jar full of sand and a body filled with health problems.
Melby says that while he is concerned about smokers, he worries more about those who inhale the smoke without the benefit of a filter, so-called "second-hand smokers."
Melby claims there is a higher level of some toxins in second-hand smoke than there is in the smoke smokers inhale directly into their lungs. The reason for the more potent pollutants is that the passive smoke is unfiltered, he contends.
Still, doctors will say that, while tobacco and nicotine are unhealthy, smoking risks are a matter of degree. It is certainly less dangerous, after all, to smoke an occasional cigar than it is to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.
- The Master Anti-Smoking Page
- Smoke'em If You Got'em
- Blair's Quit Smoking Resource Pages
- Friends of Tobacco
- American's For Non-Smoker's Rights
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