Large cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars are the three major types of
cigars sold in the United States. Following a steep decline over previous
decades, cigar use increased substantially during the 1990s. The
number of new cigar smokers more than doubled between 1990 and 1998, reaching a
peak of 3.7 million new users in 1998. Cigar use began to increase
starting in 1992 after promotional activities for cigars increased. Cigars contain the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in
cigarettes and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
- Regular cigar smoking is associated with an increased risk for cancers of
the lung, oral cavity, larynx, and esophagus.
- Heavy cigar smokers and those who inhale deeply may be at increased risk for
developing coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary
- Nationally, an estimated 5.5% of adults are current cigar users. Cigar use
is much higher among men (9.4%) than women (1.9%).
- An estimated 7.8% of African-American, 5.4% of white, 5.1% of Hispanic, 8.4%
of American Indian/Alaska Native, and 1.8% of Asian American adults are current
- An estimated 14.8% of students in grades 9–12 in the United States are
current cigar smokers. Cigar smoking is more common among males (19.9%) than
females (9.4%) in these grades.
- An estimated 6.0% of middle school students in the United States are current
cigar smokers. Estimates are higher for middle school boys (7.9%)
than girls (4.1%).
- Cigar sales increased substantially during the 1990s In 2003, cigar sales
exceeded 6.9 million units and generated more than $2.3 billion in retail sales.
- The two leading brands preferred by cigar smokers aged 12 years or older are
Black & Mild (25.5%) and Swisher Sweets (16.2%).
- Marketing efforts have promoted cigars as symbols of a luxuriant and
successful lifestyle. Endorsements by celebrities, development of
cigar-friendly magazines (e.g., Cigar Aficionado), features of highly
visible women smoking cigars, and product placement in movies have contributed
to the increased visibility of cigar smoking in society.
- Beginning in 2001, cigar packaging and advertisements must display one of
five health warning labels on a rotating basis.
For Further Information
Office on Smoking and Health
Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Hwy.,
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
Media Inquiries: Contact the Office on Smoking and Health’s press line at