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Cigar smokers are also at increased risk for heart and lung disease compared to nonsmokers. Regular cigar smokers who reported inhaling slightly have double the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease and increase their risk of coronary heart disease by 23 percent.
However, compared to cigarette smokers, cigar smokers have lower risks for cancer of the larynx and lung as well as heart and lung disease. Inhalation probably plays a strong role in lowering these risks. However, with regular use and inhalation, the heart and lung disease risks of cigar smoking increase substantially, and for some diseases, may approach the risks seen in cigarette smokers. In fact, the lung cancer risk from inhaling moderately when smoking five cigars per day is comparable to that from smoking one pack of cigarettes per day.
Cigar smoke contains most of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens found in secondhand smoke from cigarettes, but many of these compounds occur in much higher quantities in cigars, including:
- Carbon monoxide
- Respirable suspended particulates
- Tobacco specific nitrosamines (some of the most potent human carcinogens known).
Researchers found that the concentrations of carbon monoxide at two cigar social events in San Francisco were higher than the levels found on a busy California freeway. Had these indoor exposures lasted eight hours, they would have exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for outdoor air established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a separate study, smoke from a single large cigar burned in a home required five hours to dissipate. While no studies have been conducted to determine the health effects on nonsmokers at cigar social events, a significant body of evidence clearly demonstrates an increased lung cancer risk from secondhand smoke.