Are Cigars Addictive?

01 Jun

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.


Posted by on June 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


15 responses to “Are Cigars Addictive?

  1. Barry

    May 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I do not believe they are addictive. I recently went 2 weeks without a cigar, just to rest my taste buds. As a reviewer of cigars I feel this important.

    If it wasn’t for my site, I am not sure if I would of picked them up again. While I enjoy the relaxation associated with smoking a cigar it isn’t a must for me to enjoy life.

  2. ProfessorTwain

    May 31, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I’ve read pretty widely on the topic, and agree with you that cigars, if smoked properly, are not physically addictive. While cigars contain a great deal of nicotine, absorption through the mouth is a relatively slow and inefficient nicotine delivery system. Smoke pulled into the lungs allows for nicotine to be absorbed rapidly and for a nicotine rush to be delivered to the brain.

    As you mentioned, ex cigarette smokers tend to inhale cigars, intentionally or unintentionally. I have seen research that shows that cigar smokers who have never smoked cigarettes show very minimal increases in blood indicators of nicotine, while former cigarette smokers show much greater nicotine levels.

    Unfortunately there is a lack of serious scientific research on cigar smoking. There is a lack of funding to support research on identifying safe levels of cigar smoking, or ways to minimize health risks of second hand cigar smoke. The cigar industry would be wise to fund some research on these topics.

  3. Brad

    June 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    X-Smoker. 20+ years 1-2 pack a day habit. Sick and tired of the devastating effects on my lungs I turned to dip last July knowing that it would supply enough Nicotine in large enough quantities to make it possible for me to quit Cigarettes. August came around and I hadn’t had a Cigarette in 4 weeks but I also couldn’t put down the dip despite my absolute disdain for it. 1 thing I knew was that I wasn’t going back to Cigarettes so I went up to the local B&M one Saturday to buy some Cigars and kick the can. I never dipped again after that day and I started smoking about 3 – 5 Cigars a day. It was a whole new experience for me. I was tasting everything in this “real tobacco” for the first time but the first few weeks were rough because let me tell you….Cigars do not deliver near the amount of nicotine that dip does and dip hardly takes the real edge off of a hardcore Cigarette craving unless you drop like 1/2 a can and I was kicking “light cigarettes”. I went through major withdrawals (depression, irritability, lethargy, assholish attitude – it was really bad) that first week despite steadily puffing away at the seemingly ineffective yet orally satisfying cigar. 2 weeks into it I found that my daily routines had changed. No more running out every 45 minutes to smoke. Instead it was wait for the right time and then sit down and relax and enjoy the cigar. If I didn’t have one for a few hours or a half a day it’s like no big deal where with Cigarettes, I would make excuses to sneak out of just about anything to have one. Cigar smoking is never like that for me. With Cigarettes it’s a 5 minute relax period and then 60 minutes later regardless of what I was doing I was ready for another and another and another. I didn’t like the taste, the effects on my lungs, the addiction or the stress it caused the whole time I smoked them. All I wanted to do was quit Cigarettes. As soon as I quit all I wanted to do was smoke one. Total insanity! I am really glad to have picked up the cigar smoking hobby. It has really given me a new appreciation for things and I no longer have that deep rumbling productive smokers cough, out of breathness, or rattling laugh. I have slowed down and learned to appreciate all the nuances of tobacco. I truly enjoy the experience. It is 10X more relaxing than any Cigarette break ever was. Are they addictive? Sure, I suppose but it depends on the individual personality. For me, I haven’t tried to quit as I truly enjoy it so damn much whereas Cigarettes truly were not enjoyable due to the ill effects. 1 thing I will say is that Cigarettes are the most effective Nicotine delivery system ever with the exception of an injection if they have those. I know Cigarette smokers that I smoke cigars with sometimes that light up a Marlboro Light right after putting down a Toro and then letting out a sigh of relief as they get more Nicotine from that than from a 6X50 Ligero Toro. What does that tell you….?? The mouth simply doesn’t absorb and deliver nicotine the same way that a person’s lung tissue does. It just isn’t comparable. Good Article for though. Thanks Nada!

  4. Grant Ovenden

    June 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Hi, I am a cigar collector of many years and also a very busy person so I can go week between cigars or hours between cigars; yet over 20 years I have never had the NEED to have a cigar like what I believe a cigarette smoker has.
    My parents were both cigarette smokers, so I’ve seen the addiction first hand; yet they are amazed I have no cravings and no desire or need to constanntly smoke cigars.
    It is an odd one, a subject I have discussed previously amongst cigar smokers; clearly there is the chemical intent, but for some reason it doesn’t manifest itself into a habbitual need I guess for cigar smokers like cigarette smokers.

  5. Kian Taghavi

    September 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    It’s kind of weird to say this, but I feel like after I smoke a cigar, I still need my nicotine fix through a cigarrette. I feel like cigarrettes are more potent than cigars.

  6. Keith

    March 30, 2012 at 12:33 am

    I have to agree as I have done everything at one time or another. I smoked cigs, chewed copenhagen smokeless tobacco at a can and a half a day for many years and 3 large Cigars a day. The hardest to quit for me was the chewing tobacco then cigs and quitting cigars was not even close to as hard. I am tobacco free now and am very afraid to ever smoke a cig or have a chew but i’m not concerned at all about having a cigar or two here n there while fishing or golfing

  7. Bruce.

    August 15, 2013 at 1:10 am

    I’ve been smoking cigars for about five years and last winter I had a bad cold & cough so I did not smoke any cigars for about three weeks. I did not experience any withdrawal symptoms at all. I smoked cigarettes when I was in my twenties & when I quit those, I had terrible withdrawal symptoms. I suspect contrary to what the medical community tells us that cigars are just pure tobacco leaf with no added chemicals. Cigarettes on the other hand have around 300 additional chemicals like cyanide & formaldehyde. I believe it’s all the additional chemicals in cigarettes that make them so addictive.

  8. Alex Morgovsky

    November 27, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Depends on how you smoke cigars, what kind of cigars, for how long, whether you inhale, whether you take them to the tips..I only play with the biggest and hardest cigars out there, and let me tell you, the first day without one will not be a pretty’re gonna get ringing in the ears, a massive headache, tingling in the hands, your brain will feel like you’re high, impossible to concentrate, the works..again, this is for the 3+ cigar per day person who has done this for 10+ yeah, there is definitely a withdrawal process when it comes to the hardcore cigar situation, it’s no joke, i can tell you that for sure.

  9. faisal malik

    July 13, 2014 at 9:05 am

    cigars are not inhaled , so they’re not addictive. period

  10. Dan

    September 2, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I am on day three without a cigar. I average 1 to 2 cigars a day, I do not inhale. I notice it, it’s not physically horrible yet a little uncomfortable. I quit smoking cigarettes in 2003 and that was much worse yet I do believe there is some physical aspect. Probably more of a mental one though.

  11. NoName

    February 9, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    I have had this discussion many times. CIGARS ARE NOT ADDICTIVE! Really believe me on this one, I have been smoking them for almost 11 months now and I don’t feel anything near an addiction at all. I never crave for them.

    One time I didn’t even smoke for almost three weeks and I felt nothing so I can say smoking cigars is not addictive. Every time when I go out for a cigar I take extra for the day with me, many times I didn’t even want to smoke an another cigar after one. It’s just like after you had a strong meal, you don’t want to eat anymore. Well, cigars are the same.

    Many people claim they are because they heard it, hey go ask someone who smokes them and you’ll see that he’s going to say the same as I did. Smoking them isn’t addictive but buying them is!

    Cigarettes are addictive I believe the addiction is caused by the extra chemicals added by the manufacturer for the “extra taste”, a cigar is a 100% organic product and doesn’t contain any extra chemicals.

    They do contain a lot of nicotine, sometimes when I smoke a strong cigar I can feel a nicotine buzz. If I haven’t smoked a strong cigar for a long period I will get nicotine sickness. So this means that the nicotine does get into your blood.

  12. Luca

    August 5, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    i have been a cigar smoker for about 20 yrs, before that i was smoking non filter camels (LOL) ii’m 42 so i started smoking cigars pretty early (you know Toscano cigars? very good and strong), i typically smoke minimum 3 max 5 cigars a day (toscano cigars when halved are not particularly big).when i was smoking cigarettes i always felt the need to quit and i literally switched to cigars from one day to another with zero withdrawal symptoms.well i never really stopped smoking. i think cigars are addictive but its more a pleasure addiction than a real physical addiction. i never felt i had or i want to quit cigars. i love them. recently I had to stop smoking cigars for one week because i had a tooth extraction and it was extremely dangerous to smoke for the risk of a dry socket. i suffered. i felt the need to smoke , i felt i was missing something, my habit, my pleasure, a lot…I don’t inhale cigars btw. i often travel by plane and i can stay the whole trip without smoking and it s ok for me. i just accept it but as soon as i arrive i go outside the airport terminal and smoke one. I wanted to share my experience , hope you will comment on what i said if you wish. so i think cigars are addictive after all….eheh

  13. Kelton Sweet

    October 27, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I just started smoking cigars maybe 8 months ago. I smoke only one in a day, and try to smoke every other day..or even longer intervals between smokes. Also, I do not inhale. When I do, it’s accidental. This topic is very interested. The reason I put so much space between smokes is to avoid the possibility of nicotine dependency. There isn’t much information on the intervals of nicotine use and the body’s development of true physical dependence.
    Cigarette smokes inhale the smoke, and that has got to be the most direct, intense way of pulling nicotine into the system. Cigars certainly do deliver nicotine because I have managed to get downright nauseas after a smoke. The fact that I no longer get nauseas after a smoke might actually be an indicator that my body IS making an adjustment to nicotine!…even with my light usage! Not sure if this relates to the actual development of dependence, but it is an interesting thing to note.

  14. Joseph Pak

    December 12, 2016 at 3:24 am

    While the nicotine content is higher, the surface area of exposed tissue in your mouth is much less than your lungs. Also, there is no protective mucus in your lung lining, whereas in your mouth there is much more epithilial turnover and disposal of nicotine. If you find a way to rinse (preferably with a lipophilic solvent such as soapy water), you will probably find a less predisposition to be addicted to cigars than cigarettes. Cigarettes are bad business.

  15. justaguy

    December 23, 2017 at 1:00 am

    I started smoking cigarettes at the age of fifteen (15) and consumed about a pack a day for the next thirty (30) years. I had attempted to quit smoking several times over the years and each time suffered significant withdrawal symptoms (cravings, headaches, irritability). I gave up cigarettes and started smoking cigars about fifteen years ago. I switched to cigars because I noticed that I was no longer able to run up several flights of stairs without becoming winded (I worked at an industrial facility with many flights of stairs). For the past fifteen (15) years I have smoked about a pack of little cigars a day plus the occasional 45-50 ring. One week ago (at the age of 60), I decided to again try to quit smoking – expecting the worst. To my surprise, I have suffered no withdrawal symptoms, none! When I was smoking cigarettes I inhaled the smoke. I did not inhale the cigar smoke. I can only attribute my lack of withdrawal symptoms to the fact that I did not inhale the cigar smoke (and actually broke my cigarette addiction while smoking cigars) or the possibility that cigarettes contain substances that make them much more addictive than cigars. I’ll let better minds than mine to work out this puzzle.


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