Each weekend, dozens of ACU students unwind at The Leaf, a downtown smoke shop specializing in cigars. They chat with friends, listen to music and soak up the atmosphere – filled with carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia and arsenic.
Most students do not realize the danger they are exposing themselves to by smoking cigars and spending time in a smoky environment.
Many students believe smoking cigars is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, because they do not inhale. However, research from the National Cancer Institute shows that cigar smokers have a high risk of developing cancer, even if they don’t inhale.
All cigar and cigarette smokers, whether or not they inhale, directly expose their lips, mouth, tongue, throat and larynx to smoke and its carcinogens. Swallowing saliva that contains these carcinogens also endangers the esophagus. Because of this exposure, cigar smokers are just as likely as cigarette smokers to develop oral or esophageal cancer.
Although cigar smokers are less likely to develop lung cancer than cigarette smokers, they are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop it.
Cigar-smokers are also more likely to die of heart disease than non-smokers. A study by the American Cancer Society found that cigar smokers have a 30 percent higher death rate from heart disease before age 75 than non-smokers.
A 1999 study by the American Dental Association found that cigar smokers are just as likely as cigarette smokers to lose teeth and experience bone loss around the jaw.
Exposure to second-hand cigar smoke also increases the risk of cancer and heart disease. Because cigars give off more second-hand smoke than cigarettes, the danger from second-hand smoke is more significant than with cigarettes.
A study performed by the National Cancer Institute found that the concentration of carbon monoxide in a cigar bar was as much as on a crowded California freeway. Next time you’re enjoying a cigar, imagine yourself with your car’s exhaust pipe in your mouth.
Cigars contain nicotine, which means they are habit-forming. Cigar-smoking can also lead to a more dangerous cigarette addiction. Cigar smokers are more than twice as likely to begin smoking cigarettes as non-smokers.
Smoking cigars with your buddies won’t be so fun in twenty years when you are missing five teeth and have had several facial reconstruction surgeries. Hang out in a coffee shop instead. You can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere without the dangerous cocktail of chemicals and carcinogens.