Large cigars: Smoking topography and toxicant exposure

Zachary R. Rosenberry, Wallace B. Pickworth, Bartosz Koszowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Cigar smoking in the United States continues despite decreases in cigarette smoking and increased tobacco control efforts. We compared large cigar and cigarette smoking for use patterns, smoking topography, and toxicant exposure. Methods: Dual users (n = 17, 94% men, 77% African American) smoked ad libitum either their usual cigarette brand or a study large cigar (Phillies Blunt) in two laboratory sessions. Plasma nicotine and exhaled carbon monoxide were collected before and after smoking. Smoking topography measures of puff volume, puff duration, puff velocity, and interpuff interval were also collected. Results: Both cigarettes and large cigars significantly increased plasma nicotine and carbon monoxide and significantly decreased the urge to smoke. Cigarettes delivered more nicotine per gram of tobacco smoked and per 1000 mL of puff volume. Number of puffs, time to smoke, puff volume, and puff velocity were significantly larger and interpuff interval was significantly shorter in large cigar smoking. The temporal pattern of puffing more intensely at the beginning of smoking was similar for both large cigars and cigarettes. Conclusions: People who regularly use both large cigars and cigarettes adapt their smoking pattern such that they are exposed to similar levels of nicotine from each product. The immediate increase in plasma nicotine and carbon monoxide suggest significant inhalation of large cigar smoke. These data call to question the assumption that cigar smoking is less toxic than cigarette smoking. By smoking large cigars, dual users expose themselves to toxic components that have been linked with the addiction risk, morbidity, and mortality of cigarette smoking. Implications: This study found that dual users of large cigars and cigarettes inhale significant quantities of carbon monoxide, nicotine, and presumably other components of mainstream smoke. Large cigar smoke exposure may lead to or sustain nicotine addiction as wells as subject large cigar consumers to similar risks associated with cigarette smoking such as lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberntw289
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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