cigarsLarge 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.

Health Effects

  • 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

Current Estimates


  • 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
    cigar smokers.
  • 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%).

Other Information


  • 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
Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention
Mailstop K-50
4770 Buford Hwy.,
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717

Media Inquiries: Contact the Office on Smoking and Health’s press line at

Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

man sitting outside smoking

The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for 440,000 deaths,
or nearly 1 of every 5 deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are
caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides,
and murders combined.



  • The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 22 times higher among men
    who smoke cigarettes, and about 12 times higher among women who smoke cigarettes
    compared with never smokers.
  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk for many types of cancer, including
    cancers of the lip, oral cavity, and pharynx; esophagus; pancreas; larynx (voice
    box); lung; uterine cervix; urinary bladder; and kidney.
  • Rates of cancers related to cigarette smoking vary widely among members of
    racial/ethnic groups, but are generally highest in African-American

Cardiovascular Disease (Heart and Circulatory System)


  • Cigarette smokers are 2–4 times more likely to develop coronary heart
    disease than nonsmokers.
  • Cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person’s risk for
  • Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels
    (arteries). Smokers are more than 10 times as likely as nonsmokers to develop
    peripheral vascular disease.

Respiratory Disease and Other Effects


  • Cigarette smoking is associated with a ten-fold increase in the risk of
    dying from chronic obstructive lung disease. About 90% of all deaths from
    chronic obstructive lung diseases are attributable to cigarette smoking.
  • Cigarette smoking has many adverse reproductive and early childhood effects,
    including an increased risk for infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low
    birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Postmenopausal women who smoke have lower bone density than women who never
    smoked. Women who smoke have an increased risk for hip fracture than never