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Health Systems and Tobacco Use

Other Tobacco Products

Little Cigars, Cigarillos, & Large Cigars

What are Cigars?1

Cigars are usually made of a single type of tobacco (air-cured and fermented), and they have a tobacco wrapper. They can vary in size and shape and contain 1- 20 grams of tobacco.

3 Major Cigar Products2


  • Little Cigars look like cigarettes. They are usually wrapped in brown paper that contain some tobacco leaf. Generally they have a filter like a cigarette and are often sold in packs of 20.
  • Cigarillos are a slimmer version of a large cigar. They do not usually have a filter, but sometimes have wood or plastic tips. They come in a variety of flavors like vanilla and grape.
  • Large Cigars can contain as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes. They can take between 1 and 2 hours to smoke. They tend to weigh more than little cigars and cigarillos.

Health Risks1,2

  • Cigars have higher levels of cancer causing substances, more tar, and higher levels of toxins than cigarettes.
  • Smokers often use little cigars and cigarillos like regular cigarettes, taking deep drags. This can make worse the health risks of cigar smoking.
  • Cigar smoke dissolves more easily in saliva than cigarette smoke does. This means cigar smokers can take in nicotine without inhaling smoke directly into their lungs.
  • Even without inhaling, toxic chemicals make direct contact with the lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and larynx (voice box).
  • Cigar smoking can cause oral cavity cancers (cancers of the lip, tongue, mouth, and throat) and cancers of the larynx, esophagus, and lung.
  • Smoking one cigar has as much nicotine as smoking several cigarettes.
  • Cigars are addictive, just like cigarettes.


Promoters of hookah smoking claim that the water pipes “cool and purify” the smoke before it enters the body. Since hookah smoking is tobacco smoking, people who use hookah pipes are still at risk for all of the tobacco related illnesses.

Hookah Tobacco

When the hookah was developed, some 500 years ago in Turkey, people wanted something sweet to smoke. The result was Shisha, a special blend of tobacco, fruit, molasses and honey. Shisha, also spelled sheesha, is the original name for hookah tobacco. To make it, dried fruit pulp, flavored molasses and fresh tobacco leaves are ground up together. The desired flavor determines what kind of fruit pulp and molasses flavoring is used.

How is Hookah Tobacco Smoked?

First the tobacco is set in the pipe and a bit of lit charcoal is placed on top of it. When the mouthpiece at the end of a hose is placed in the mouth and inhaled upon, the smoke extends to the water contained in the bottom of the pipe. The smoke collects in the empty space in the pipe and when inhaled upon the smoke travels up the hose and enters the mouth.


What is a Hookah Bar?

A hookah bar is place that offers customers the opportunity to smoke from hookah pipes. Groups of people lounge on velvet cushions, taking turns with the hookah. There are various brands of hookah that can be smoked from various kinds of hookah pipes. Some of these water pipes are elaborate in design and have several hoses that extend out from the pipe.

1 National Cancer Institute (2010). Cigar Smoking and Cancer. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/cigars

2 Legacy (2012). Tobacco Fact Sheet: Cigars, Cigarillos and Little Cigars. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from: https://truthinitiative.org/sites/default/files/Cigars%20Fact%20Sheet_0.pdf

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Smoking & Tobacco Use. Hookahs. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/tobacco_industry/hookahs/

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