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Smoking cigars has similar risks of mortality as cigarettes

A newly published JAMA Internal Medicine article has reported new findings on the association of smoking cigars and risk of mortality and morbidity.

Smoking continues to be the number one preventable risk factor for mortality and morbidity. Despite strong evidence on the correlation between smoking cigarettes and mortality and morbidity, few studies have been done on the association between smoking cigars and pipes, and mortality.

While cigar and pipe smokers are less than the number of cigarette smokers, pipe and cigar use are still notable. In 2015, an estimated 12.5 million people in the United States aged 12 years or older reported smoking cigars in the past 30 days.

Previous research has shown that smoking cigars are associated with an increased risk of oral cavities, as well as larynx, lung and possibly pancreatic cancers. It has also been proven that the risk of oral cavity cancers is similar among those smoking cigars and cigarettes. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine evaluated the mortality risks associated with the current and former use of cigars, pipes, and cigarettes.

This study was conducted in the United States and used the data from National Longitudinal Mortality Study, which is a national health cohort survey with mortality follow-up. The participants provided data for any form of tobacco smoking from 1985 to 2011.

The researchers included a total of 357,420 subjects in the final analysis. The results showed that as many as 79-98% of current or former cigar and pipe smokers were male. Based on the findings, there were 51,150 recorded deaths during the follow-up. Current cigarette and cigar smokers had a higher risk of death compared those who had never smoked tobacco. Current cigar smokers and pipe smokers also had an elevated risk of dying from tobacco-related cancer including cancer of the bladder, esophagus, larynx, lung, oral cavity, and pancreas.

The researchers concluded that in addition to cigarettes, the consumption of other tobacco products is also associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Smoking cigars is associated with risks similar to smoking cigarettes and pipes, even in non-daily users. Lower risks are found for former users than current users, emphasizing the importance of quitting smoking.

Written by Nima Makhdami, M.D.


(1) Christensen, C. H., Rostron, B., Cosgrove, C., Altekruse, S. F., Hartman, A. M., Gibson, J. T., … & Freedman, N. D. (2018). Association of Cigarette, Cigar, and Pipe Use With Mortality Risk in the US Population. JAMA Internal Medicine.
(2) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2015.

Nima Makhdami
Nima Makhdami
Nima has experience as an emergency room physician and clinical research associate. He also has experience in medical literature, clinical data analysis and was a member of a research team for several published articles. He is working on several clinical research projects at the University of Toronto, McMaster University, and Western University. Writing for Medical News Bulletin has allowed Nima to follow his passion for medical writing. He is also passionate about internal medicine and hopes to continue his education in internal medicine residency in the near future. He enjoys playing piano and abstract painting.


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