Have a cigar, you’ll go far

Unless you’re actually smoking one at the time, (which means you can’t smell anything), it’s safe to say that most people find the smell of a cigar repulsive. Back in the old days when cigarette smoking was only forbidden at gas stations (and even then, only while you were actually filling your gas tank!) cigars got a bum rap for their strong smell and generally intrusive nature.

But in the past few years, as cigarette smokers have been pushed to the fringes of donut shops and street corners, cigars have enjoyed something of a renaissance. Glamourous movie stars both male and female gave cigars a cachet they never had before, and suddenly the cheroot was cool. Cigar bars, humidors, magazines, it’s become a bit too much for those of us who prefer the smell of a quality Canadian cigarette or nothing at all.

Well, the bloom is off the stogie. A study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine confirms what many of us have been thinking as we open another window: cigars are bad for you, just like cigarettes. The misconception that cigars are a low-risk way to enjoy tobacco is punctured by the results of the study, which show that men who smoked ve or fewer cigars a day had about a 50 percent increased risk of lung cancer. They also had about a third greater chance of oral tract cancers, and a 30 percent higher likelihood of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as emphysema.

Subjects who smoked five or more cigars a day were about 3.25 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, and they had more than five times the likelihood of developing upper airway tumors and seven times the likelihood of throat and mouth cancers. And to make matters even worse for the cigar and brandy crowd: men who drank liquor while they smoked increased their risk of mouth and throat tumors, with the risk growing with number of drinks.