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Cigar vs. Cigarette: What’s the Difference?

While they might both be tobacco-based products, this is where the similarities end. Any cigar aficionado will tell you that cigars and cigarettes are certainly not the same. It is strange when people use the words cigars and cigarettes interchangeably. Both products have a different purpose and a different audience. The reason why someone would puff on a cigar is to enjoy a delicious and unique mix of flavors. A cigar burning between gatherings of friends helps set the mood and ambiance for a good time with your loved ones.

Other times, it sets the mood, especially when you are looking to spend some relaxing time by yourself. The main reason why people smoke a cigarette is to experience a rush of nicotine to their head, which helps soothe them in stressful times. Hence, it is fair to say that it is one of the many forms of nicotine intake.

Origins of Cigars

Similar to a bottle of fine wine, a premium cigar is aged. The best cigars can be very expensive. There are many reasons why cigars are much more expensive than cigarettes. And one of the reasons is that their production takes time and expertise.

Unlike cigarettes, they are not mass-produced by machines; instead, the best cigars are hand-rolled and packed in a mahogany box with flawless presentation. From seed to plant to harvest and to smoke, the process of creating or producing a cigar stands apart from other tobacco products.

When it comes to the origins of cigars, you will have to go back to Cuba and immerse in some rich Cuban history. On October 28th, 1492, two men serving Christopher Columbus were the first Europeans to experience the taste of cigars with the Arawak natives of Cuba.

However, no one can accurately identify when a cigar originated. The earliest records of a cigar’s evidence stem from a ceramic pot that belonged to the Mayans. On this ceramic pot, there is a depiction of what seems to be a native smoking a cigar that is wrapped in palm leaves, and this cigar is held together by strings.
Back then, cigars were giant and as thick as a human hand. Over the next three centuries, as the process of colonization continued, tobacco products quickly spread across the globe, and most nations welcomed them with open arms.

Cuba became the center of all high-quality tobacco production. This led to cigars gaining immense popularity in the US. However, fast forward to 1960, the US imposed a trade embargo on Cuba because of their disputes with Fidel Castro.

Thus, most Cuban Cigar makers had to relocate to nearby Caribbean locations that had similar soil conditions. This justifies the high value of some of the cigars that you find today. This is because the premium ones are difficult to find and are produced in limited quantities.

The Origins of Cigarettes

Cigars came way before cigarettes. Cigarettes were a means by which the tobacco industry could boost its production and refine tobacco to a uniform shape that is economical and easy to consume. All packaged cigarettes are mass-produced with the help of machines. In other words, cigarettes are how people consume tobacco in the modern world. And the consumption of other products, such as cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and more, has declined.

Health Risks of Tobacco

When comparing cigars vs. cigarettes, you cannot do so without evaluating them on their health risks. Most people understand that smoking cigars and cigarettes is harmful to their health. This does not mitigate the dangers of secondhand smoke as well.

However, the common question is: which is worse, cigarettes or cigars? Is it better to smoke cigars than cigarettes? The answer is not plain and simple and requires careful analysis of studies and researches. According to research from the Cancer Institute, the health risks associated with cigarette use and cigar use are strongly tied to the frequency of consumption.

In other words, it does not matter whether you smoke cigarettes or cigars, but how often you smoke them. This is what indicates whether you are seriously at risk. Individuals that consume cigarettes on a daily basis are at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer than people who smoke cigars occasionally.

That said, there is evidence that indicates that cigars contain more carcinogens than cigarettes. It also appears that cigar smoke can be higher in toxicity than cigarette smoke. Much of this is only due to the fact that cigars are bigger in size than cigarettes and, therefore, produce more smoke.


The debate also arises when it comes to inhalation. Note that cigars are meant to have aromatic effects, and most people do not consume them for inhalation. This is why you can rightfully argue that they are much safer than cigarettes.

Some research studies point out that both cigars and cigarettes expose you to carcinogens whether you inhale them or not.

Even if you do not inhale, smoking exposes your oral cavity to carcinogens, which are dangerous. This is because your saliva comes in contact with cigars or cigarette smoke, and that saliva is swallowed, which leads to consumption.

Therefore, both cigar and cigarette smokers swallow the same amount of carcinogen. As a result, both run the same risks of throat and oral cancer, which is concerning.

However, taking the degree of inhalation into consideration, you can argue that the risks associated with cigars are less than cigarettes. This is because an average cigarette smoker will inhale about five cigarettes a day, whereas an average cigar smoker is more moderate with their frequency.

According to the national cancer institute, the risk of developing lung cancer for a person who smokes five cigars in a day is the same as the person who smokes one packet of cigarettes in a day. It is much more common for a cigarette smoker to finish a pack than for a cigar smoker to finish five whole cigars in a day.

The Experience

Cigarettes offer instant satisfaction and the quick head rush that comes with nicotine consumption. This is an experience that is very different from cigars. A cigar aficionado savors aroma and flavor and values the blissful taste more than the mind alteration.

This is why every cigar has a different taste and aroma. For cigar lovers, this accounts for the most intriguing element of cigar smoking. The fact that they can get to experience different premium cigars and taste the varying flavors of the soil that they stem from is an exciting experience.

Since cigars are all tobacco and have very few additives, a good cigar will represent the soil in which the tobacco has grown. Therefore, it has an element of exquisiteness and uniqueness and helps embark a cigar collector on the journey from its seed to the soil.

Not to mention, cigars are also symbolic in some instances. This is because they are an occasional delight that one would light up for celebratory reasons. Other than that, it also symbolizes satisfaction and relaxation.
On many occurrences, cigars have played their role as a complementary substance, tasting incredibly well with the liquor of choice or even after a leisurely meal. All of these paired situations come down to moments, and cigars help add luxury and aroma to your favorite memories.

When the smell of a sweet, rustic cigar gets tied to a celebration or moment of joy, smoking the same cigar will always take you back to the happy memories. This is largely because the smell of cigars is more potent and recognizable than cigarettes.

On the other hand, all cigarettes are more or less the same in flavor and taste. Their experience lasts only five minutes, and they do not represent any class or culture of sorts.

Instead, they are a factory-made tobacco alternative suited for nicotine addicts that want a quick dose of the compound.

People’s Choice

Many cigar smokers cannot stand the smell of cigarettes even though the average cigarette smoker will not mind smoking a cigar occasionally. You hardly ever come across a person that equally enjoys cigars and cigarettes. The major difference between cigar smokers and cigarette smokers is their purpose.

Cigarette smokers usually smoke packets of cigarettes either out of addiction or because they resort to it as a coping mechanism every time they are stressed out. On the other hand, cigar smokers have more progressive and joyous reasons to indulge in tobacco. Whether it is to cool down and unwind after a hard day’s work, enjoying with the boys, or celebrating a special occasion, it is a positive and memorable experience.