Cigar vs Cigarette: The Full Comparison

smoking a cigar by jay | Updated on February 1st, 2023

Are you curious about the difference between cigars and cigarettes? Do you want to know more about the health effects of these two popular products?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between cigars and cigarettes and the potential health risks that each presents. Let’s get started!

Cigar vs Cigarette

Introduction to Cigar and Cigarette

Cigars and cigarettes are both forms of tobacco but differ significantly in shape, size, and type of tobacco used.

Cigars typically contain between 100 to 200 milligrams of nicotine, while cigarettes average about 8 milligrams. Cigar smoke is typically not inhaled, whereas cigarette smoke is inhaled deeply into the lungs. Cigars also have higher levels of carcinogens than cigarettes.

While cigarette smoking is an important cause of many health problems, much less is known about the long-term health effects of cigar smoking due to its low prevalence.

Size Comparison

Cigars and cigarettes differ in size, with cigars typically bigger and thicker than cigarettes. This means they last longer when smoked and contain more tobacco. Cigars are also more expensive than cigarettes.

It’s important to note that both are bad for your health, but little cigars are the same size and shape as cigarettes, often include a filter, and are packaged similarly. However, they are taxed differently.

Tobacco Used

Cigars and cigarettes contain tobacco, but the type of tobacco used varies. Cigars are usually made with a single type of tobacco, while cigarettes use a blend of different types. The tobacco in cigars is usually stronger than that found in cigarettes, which can lead to a more intense smoking experience. Cigar smoke is also more likely to be unfiltered, which can increase the harmful chemicals and carcinogens it contains.

However, cigarettes contain more chemicals (around 7,000), and additives are added. Cigars are 100% natural, and no additives are added.

Nicotine Content

Generally speaking, both contain the same tobacco, but cigars are bigger and often contain more nicotine than cigarettes.

A single full-size cigar can contain nearly as much nicotine as a cigarette pack. If you inhale cigar smoke, you can get as much nicotine as mean nicotine concentrations in cigarettes (19.2 mg/g) and large cigars (15.4 mg/g).

Inhaling Cigar Smoke

Inhaling cigar smoke is a different experience than inhaling cigarette smoke. While cigarette smoke is designed to be inhaled, cigar smoke is not. The ideal way to smoke a cigar is by retro inhaling, where the intriguing flavors can be savored without inhaling the smoke deeply.

This helps to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease and lung cancer associated with heavy cigar smoking and deep inhalation of the smoke.

Carcinogen Content

Cigar smoke contains more cancer-causing nitrosamines than cigarette smoke, and the risk increases with the amount of cigar and pipe smoking. Compared with nonsmokers, regular cigar smokers are 4 to 10 times more likely to die from oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and other types of cancer.

Studies have also found that chronic tobacco smoke exposure from cigarettes or cigars decreases CFTR protein levels in the airways, leading to respiratory diseases. Cigars contain the same addictive, toxic, and carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes and are not a safe alternative.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with cigar smoking before deciding to indulge.

Long-term Health Effects

When it comes to long-term health effects, cigars and cigarettes can both have serious implications. Regular cigar smoking increases the risk of lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It might also increase the risk of lung, oral cavity, laryngeal, and esophagus cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease.

Those who smoke cigars heavily or inhale could be at an even greater risk. Cigar smoke has higher concentrations of toxins than cigarette smoke due to the larger size of most cigars, which means more tobacco.

Cigar or pipe smoking reduces life expectancy to a lesser extent than cigarette smoking, but cigarettes are considered more addictive and dangerous. No matter the perception, both can cause cancer.

Cigarillo Comparison

The popularity of cigarillos is rising, but it’s important to note that they can be just as unhealthy as cigarettes. Cigarillos contain similar levels of nicotine and carcinogens. The smoke produced from them has been shown to have higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than secondhand smoke from cigarettes.

Additionally, even though thin cigars tend to burn hotter than fatter ones, they still have an increased risk of lung cancer compared to regular cigars. Ultimately, no matter which type of tobacco you choose, it’s important to stay informed about the potential long-term health effects and know the facts before deciding which one you prefer.


In conclusion, cigars and cigarettes differ in size, tobacco use, nicotine content, carcinogen content, and long-term health effects. Cigars are larger and contain more nicotine than cigarettes. Cigar smoke contains more carcinogens than cigarettes, so regular cigar smokers are at a higher risk of cancer.

While occasional cigar smoking may not be completely free from health risks, it is likely less harmful than smoking cigarettes or cigarillos. The popularity of cigars has been increasing in the United States since 1993, and it is important to recognize the potential health risks associated with smoking them.

smoking a cigar


Self proclaimed cigar expert. I've been smoking since 2010. I've practically lived at a cigar lounge from 10am to 10pm and trying every new cigar that came out for years.

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