Cigars, Health Benefits, Myths, Relative Risk, Secondhand Smoke (ETS), Smoking Bans

Cigars and Cancer

1 Comment 11 May 2010

By Richard White

The case against tobacco has long been rolling. The anti-smoking movement turned into a crushing force in the early 1990s and today it has reached unprecedented heights with blanket smoking bans. This hysteria all originated from the belief that passive smoking was a killer, consequently transforming the danger of tobacco smoking from the smoker to anyone around him. Despite the widespread acceptance of this claim, it is a premise that has been shown by science to be false and rejected by numerous members of the public. Not nearly so readily questioned though is the claim that active smoking has a foot in junk science too.

The issue of pipe and cigar smoking is murky. Some people argue that those who smoke tobacco in these forms are at a much higher risk of oral cancers, as well as the risk of large quantities of second-hand smoke generated. On the other hand, others maintain that no risk exists. Naturally over time there are numerous statistics and figures generated which support the former argument; the anti-smoking movement would not and could not exist without it. However, it is far from an open-and-shut case.

The single biggest accusation against cigars and pipes is that they produce quantities of smoke far in excess of cigarettes and therefore contain grossly elevated levels of chemicals that pose danger to the smoker and companions. In part answer to this question is a small excerpt from my book Smoke Screens: The Truth About Tobacco:

The [1964 Surgeon General Report] committee discovered that, according to their work, the most potent carcinogen present in tobacco smoke is Benzo[a]pyrene (p27 of the Report). However, despite what has been mentioned already about BAP, the committee found their own discrepancy – they said that there is four times the amount of BAP in cigar smoke as in cigarette smoke, and ten times the amount of cigarette smoke in pipe smoke. Yet, oddly, they found both cigar and pipe smoke to be essentially innocent of causing lung cancer and concluded that pipe smokers live longer than non-smokers.

This is a large bullet through the claims of cigar dangers. If cigar and pipe smokers outlive not only cigarette smokers but also non-smokers then the product cannot pose a significant danger. In order to have such an advantage cigars and pipes must not be causing cancer – either oral or elsewhere – as the disease would significantly lower the life expectancy. This is especially indicative of the true safety of tobacco when one considers how much smoke and chemicals are produced from a single cigar or pipe bowl. If, as we are told, second-hand smoke from a cigarette can cause lung cancer in non-smokers, then the far higher quantity of second-hand smoke in cigars and pipes would pose a large lung cancer risk for those who smoke them. This alone demolishes the outrageous claim that there is no safe level of tobacco smoke exposure.

Another important point to raise to acknowledge that cigars do not cause cancer is that scientists, no matter how hard they try, have never managed to induce cancer in any animal using tobacco products, except skin cancer on bald mice using tobacco condensate. However, this is not indicative of tobacco carcinogenicity; tobacco condensate is merely an irritant, and bald mice develop skin cancer to any externally applied irritant.

Animal studies are particularly worthwhile because human studies largely rely on epidemiology, a method that ends with links rather than proving a definite cause. In other words, epidemiology can show smokers have higher rates of cancer than non-smokers but cannot prove the smoke is responsible. However, animal studies provide an avenue for science to demonstrate cause and effect, since they allow for control groups with every factor the same between the groups except for tobacco exposure. These animal studies have spectacularly failed to demonstrate smoking causes cancer or premature death. This was evidenced in the 1998 court case of the State of Minnesota suing the tobacco companies. During testimony, experts for both sides agreed that animal studies have never proven that tobacco smoke causes cancer.

In summary, there is no lack of science on cancer and cigars; however, the science has never been able to demonstrate that cancer and cigars are related.


Richard White
Richard White is an independent researcher. He holds a BA (Hons) degree in Theology from, a subject that increased his ability to analyse and interpret. He has qualifications in Psychology and Sociology, both of which are relevant to the smoking debate.

Richard has been researching various health areas for numerous years and has studied the research on smoking for about eight of those. This includes active smoking, passive smoking and the politics surrounding the anti-smoking movement. Smoke Screens: The Truth About Tobacco is a culmination of all his research and an analysis of the studies and reports in question. The project initially started out simply as a way of correlating his investigations.

Richard does not work for, and never has worked for, any tobacco or medical company. He has never received money from the tobacco, medical, or pharmaceutical industries or any other related industry.

Smoke Screens: The Truth About Tobacco
This is a comprehensive book that analyses the scientific evidence linking tobacco smoking to disease and premature death, as well as the political motivations that have led to the anti-smoking movement becoming so large. The book explores all aspects of tobacco smoking, including: smoking trends among social classes; detection bias and its impact on diagnosis; and examines in depth the evidence linking smoking to specific diseases; how attitudes towards smoking have changed over time from being used medicinally to being the scourge of society; and how and why tobacco smoking has the negative status it does today. It objectively dissects the politics and science of smoking trends and issues, looking at vital, complex components that are often overlooked. A must-read for smokers and non-smokers alike, Smoke Screens: The Truth About Tobacco is a controversial work that challenges one of the most widely accepted beliefs of our time.

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1 comment

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