According to the straight facts, cigars should be addictive. According to Wikipedia, the average cigarette contains 1 gram of tobacco and 1-3 mg of nicotine in the smoke that is inhaled. In contrast, cigars contain anywhere from 100-400+ mg of nicotine, simply because there is a lot more tobacco in a cigar than in a cigarette. I have had friends and family members who smoked cigarettes throughout my life. I have seen a good many of them attempt to quit, and it was not pretty. Mood swings, irritability, restlessness, increased appetite, headaches… and many of those symptoms were experienced within the first 24 hours of quitting. If all those symptoms can occur in a person who smokes, say, one pack (20 cigarettes/40mg of nicotine) a day, what happens when a regular cigar smoker does not have their regular smoke? Even if a cigar smoker smokes just one cigar per day, they get at least 2.5 times more nicotine in that one cigar than a cigarette smoker who smokes one pack a day.
Last year, we traveled to see family for Thanksgiving for the 4-day weekend. These family members know nothing of our cigar habit, and as we wished to keep it that way we did not smoke while we were there. I typically smoke 4-5 cigars a day. One with breakfast/coffee, one after lunch, and 2-3 in the evening. That would give me at least 400 mg of nicotine per day, assuming I smoke cigars with the least amount of tobacco/nicotine (which I can assure you is not the case). During those 4 days, I did not get any of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Sure, I would have liked a pleasant environment to enjoy a smoke among some B/SOTL, but I only thought about smoking once or twice a day at the most. On our way back to the airport, we found a small cigar shop where we stopped for a smoke. Its lounge wasn’t very inviting, and there were no other fellow smokers to talk with, none of our usual friends. While the cigar tasted great and I enjoyed the smoke, I didn’t feel immensely better after smoking it. I think more than anything else, I missed the routines that revolve around the cigars. Sitting with a cigar and a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, planning out the day. Or a cigar at the local lounge, where we always find at least one of our friends to chat with.
There are other times I have done without cigars – either due to travel, illness – and have had a similar experience. I didn’t find myself needing a cigar, and on one particular business trip I was kept so busy I did not have a single thought about smoking.
So why is it that cigarette smokers go through the painful withdrawal symptoms while I didn’t? I have talked about cigar addiction with some BOTLs who smoke daily, and found that some do experience withdrawal symptoms when they go a day without a cigar, while others are like me and don’t have any physical symptoms. One big difference is that most of the folks who complained about cigar withdrawal symptoms had been cigarette smokers at some point in their lives. Some of these former cigarette smokers even admitted to inhaling some of their cigar smoke. While I do retrohale on a few puffs here and there, I do not inhale my cigar smoke. I really do believe that not inhaling cigar smoke makes cigars non-addictive.
Doing some research online, I found that most of the scientific sites (e.g., articles written by physicians and chemists, not blogs or experiences of smokers) say that cigars are definitely addictive. Some even said that even without inhaling, the nicotine is absorbed into mouth tissue (and the throat and nose if retrohaling), and therefore still enters the body causing addiction. I must respectfully disagree.
I would love to hear your opinions and experiences on this topic.