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