Are Pipes and Cigars Safe?

Many smokers believe that pipes and cigars are healthier alternatives to cigarettes for various reasons. However, studies reveal otherwise.

Many pipe and cigar smokers claim that they don’t inhale the smoke which is one of the reasons why they believe these methods are safer. A study was conducted on 3,500 adults aged 48 to 90 to determine whether smoking pipes and cigars is just as dangerous as cigarette smoking.

In the study, 9 of every 100 participants smoked a pipe while another 11 of every 100 smoked cigars. All the participants were subjected to blood testing to measure the amount of cotinine in their blood. This test was performed to determine whether it was true that they weren’t inhaling the smoke when they used a cigar or pipe.

Cotinine is a byproduct of nicotine that has been metabolized in the body. It is used as a biomarker to accurately determine exposure to tobacco smoke. Cotinine levels are useful for determining passive smoking exposure and have been used by courts in child safety cases.

The study results showed that smokers who use cigars and pipes do have lower levels of cotinine in the body compared to cigarette smokers, however, the lower levels were not significant enough to prevent the same health problems faced by cigarette smokers.

The measured levels were between 10 to 20 % lower than cigarette smokers, so there is still plenty of damaging smoke being absorbed by pipe and cigar smokers.

Although absorbed may be slightly lower, other harmful effects of tobacco smoke will still be experienced, regardless of the medium.

Pipes and Cigars Increase Risk of COPD

The same group of participants also went through a breathing ability test using spirometry, a tool used to measure breath and lung function capacity.

Each participant had to blow into a piece of tube to determine how much air they could move in one second. The pipe and cigar smokers were found to experience more than double the airway obstruction as that of non-smokers. Researchers also found out that the degree of obstruction became worse as the level of smoking increased.

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a crippling disease and remains one of the leading causes of death among the adult population in the U.S. The findings of the above study showed that cigar and pipe smokers faced the same risk as cigarette smokers when it came to suffering from COPD.

Just like cigarette smokers, pipe and cigar smokers may experience progressive obstruction of airways if their smoking habit is left unabated.

Cigars Contain Cancer-Causing Substances

Cigars contain cancer-causing substances that are hazardous to the health of the smoker and the passive smoker. High concentrations of nitrosamines are produced during the fermentation process of cigar tobacco.

The number of nitrosamines is higher in cigar tobacco than in cigarettes. Cigars also have a higher tar content than cigarettes.

Cigars may expose you to higher levels of toxins due to the actual cigar wrappers. They are less porous than wrappers of cigarettes. It is believed that this results in the smoke having higher concentrations of dangerous chemicals.

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