- A cigar is defined as a roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in a substance that contains tobacco (as opposed to a cigarette, which is defined as a roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in a substance that does not contain tobacco).1,2
- The three major types of cigars sold in the United States are large cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars.1,2
- Small or little cigars are about the same size as a cigarette and often include a filter.3
- Historically, cigar smoking in the United States has been a behavior of older men, but the industry’s increased marketing of these products to targeted groups in the 1990s increased the prevalence of use among adolescents.3
- The use of flavorings in some cigar brands and the fact that they are commonly sold as a single stick has raised concerns that these products may be especially appealing to youth.3,4,5
- Cigar use is higher among youth who use other tobacco products or other drugs, such as alcohol, marijuana, and inhalants, than among youth who do not use these products.3
|Type||Description||Market Share (2012)*|
|*Percentage of U.S. market for cigar products6|
|Large cigar||Cigar that typically contains at least one-half ounce of aged, fermented tobacco (i.e., as much as a pack of cigarettes) and usually takes 1 to 2 hours to smoke|
|Cigarillo||A short (3 to 4 inches) and narrow cigar that typically contains about 3 grams of tobacco and usually does not include a filter|
|Note: These two categories are now combined in the calculation of market share.|
|Little cigar||A small cigar that typically is about the same size as a cigarette and usually includes a filter|
- In 2012, overall cigar industry sales were up 0.4% from 2011.6
Cigars contain the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.1,4
- Regular cigar smoking is associated with an increased risk for cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), and/or oral cavity (lip, tongue, mouth, throat).1,2
- Cigar smoking is linked to gum disease and tooth loss.2
- Heavy cigar smokers and those who inhale deeply may be at increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.1,2
- Heavy cigar smoking increases the risk for lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.1,2
Current Cigar Use
Percentage of U.S. adults who were current cigar users† in 2012:7
- 5.4% of all adults in the United States
- 9.1% of adult males in the United States
- 2.0% of adult females in the United States
- 7.6% of African American adults
- 7.9% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults
- 1.7% of Asian American adults
- 4.2% of Hispanic adults
- 5.5% of White adults
High School Students
Percentage of U.S. high school students who were current cigar users† in 2012:8
- 12.6% of all students in grades 9–12
- 8,4% of female students in grades 9–12
- 16.7% of male students in grades 9–12
- Cigar use among high school males (16.7%) is approximately double that of high school females (8.4%) and similar to cigarette use among high school males (16.3%).8
- During 2011–2012, cigar use increased significantly among non-Hispanic Black high school students to 16.7%; there were no significant changes for non-Hispanic White, Hispanic, and other racial/ethnic groups.8
Middle School Students
Percentage of U.S. middle school students who were current cigar users† in 2012:8
- 2.8% of all U.S. students in grades 6–8
- 2.4% of female students in grades 6–8
- 3.2% of male students in grades 6–8
- During 2011–2012, there were no significant changes in cigar use among male or female middle school students or for any racial/ethnic group.8
- In 2012, an estimated 13.4 million people (or 5.2% of people 12 years of age or older) in the United States were current cigar users.7
*Adults are defined as persons 18 years of age or older.
†Current cigar use is defined as smoking cigars on 1 or more of the 30 days preceding the survey.
In 2012, cigar sales in the United States by major cigar manufacturers showed:6
- Altadis USA (products include Dutch Masters and Backwoods brands) with 10% of the U.S. market share for large cigars and cigarillos and 19.7% of the U.S. market share for little cigars
- Cheyenne International with 15.4% of the U.S. market share for large cigars and cigarillos
- Lane Limited (products include Winchester and Captain Black) with 5.3% of the U.S. market share for little cigars
- Middleton (products include Black & Mild brand) with 10% of the U.S. market share for large cigars and cigarillos
- Prime Time International with 3.1% of the U.S. market share for large cigars and cigarillos and 19.7% of the U.S. market share for little cigars
- Swedish Match (products include White Owl and Garcia y Vega) with 7.8% of the U.S. market share for large cigars and cigarillos
- Swisher International (products include Swisher Sweets and Swisher Little brands) with 16.8% of the U.S. market share for large cigars and cigarillos and 52.5% of the U.S. market share for little cigars
Marketing efforts promote cigars as symbols of a luxuriant and successful lifestyle. The following marketing strategies all contribute to the increased visibility of cigar smoking in society:1,3
- Endorsements by celebrities
- Development of cigar friendly magazines (e.g., Cigar Aficionado)
- Images of highly visible women smoking cigars
- Product placement in movies
In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission mandated that cigar packaging and advertisements must display one of the following five "SURGEON GENERAL WARNING" text-only labels on a rotating basis:9
- Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth And Throat, Even If You Do Not Inhale.
- Cigar Smoking Can Cause Lung Cancer And Heart Disease.
- Tobacco Use Increases The Risk Of Infertility, Stillbirth, And Low Birth Weight.
- Cigars Are Not A Safe Alternative To Cigarettes.
- Tobacco Smoke Increases The Risk Of Lung Cancer And Heart Disease, Even In Nonsmokers.
- National Cancer Institute. Cigars: Health Effects and Trends. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph No. 9. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph No. 9. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1998 [accessed 2013 Nov 6].
- American Cancer Society. Cigar Smoking. Atlanta: American Cancer Society [accessed 2013 Nov 14].
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012 [accessed 2013 Nov 14].
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Rise of Cigars and Cigar-Smoking Harms[PDF–144 KB] Washington: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids [accessed 2013 Nov 14].
- King BA, Tynan MA, Dube SR, Arrazola R. Flavored-Little-Cigar and Flavored-Cigarette Use Among U.S. Middle and High School Students. Journal of Adolescent Health 2013 (published online head of print on October 23, 2013) [accessed 2013 Nov 14].
- The Maxwell Report: Cigar Industry in 2012. Richmond (VA): John C. Maxwell, Jr., 2013 [cited 2013 Nov 14].
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. [accessed 2013 Nov 14].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students–United States, 2011 and 2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2013;62(45):893-7 [accessed 2013 Nov 14].
- Federal Trade Commission. Nationwide Labeling Rules for Cigar Packaging and Ads Take Effect Today. Washington: Federal Trade Commission, 2001 [accessed 2013 Nov 14].
For Further Information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office on Smoking and Health
Media Inquiries: Contact CDC's Office on Smoking and Health press line at 770-488-5493.
- Page last reviewed: November 24, 2014
- Page last updated: November 14, 2013
- Content source: