A cigar is defined as a roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in a substance that contains tobacco.1,2

Cigars differ from cigarettes in that cigarettes are a roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in a substance that does not contain tobacco.

The three major types of cigars sold in the United States are large cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars.1,2

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.3,4,5,6

In 2014, among middle and high school students who used cigars in the past 30 days, 63.5% reported using a flavored cigar during that time.6

Little cigars are the same size and shape as cigarettes, often include a filter, and are packaged in a similar way, but they are taxed differently than cigarettes. Rather than reduce consumption, cost-conscious smokers might switch from cigarettes to less costly little cigars.2,5,7

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

Cigar use is higher among youth who use other tobacco products or other drugs (e.g., alcohol, marijuana, and inhalants) than among youth who do not use these products.3


Cigars contain the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.1,4


Description and Market Share of Cigar Types
Type Description Market Share (2015)*8
*Percentage of U.S. market for cigar products. Large cigar and cigarillo categories are combined in the calculation of market share.
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 (3–4 inches) and narrow cigar that typically contains about 3 grams of tobacco and usually does not include a filter
Little cigar A small cigar that typically is about the same size as a cigarette and usually includes a filter


Health Effects


  • Regular cigar smoking is associated with an increased risk for cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), and 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 for developing coronary heart disease.1,2
  • Heavy cigar smoking increases the risk for lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.1,2
Image of various forms of cigars

Current Cigar Use


Percentage of U.S. adults who were current cigar smokers in 2016:9

  • 4.8% of  all adults
  • 7.9% of  adult males
  • 2.0% of  adult females
  • 4.8% of  African American adults
  • 8.2% of  American Indian/Alaska Native adults
  • 2.0% of  Asian American adults
  • 1.2% of  Hispanic adults
  • 5.1% of  White adults

High School Students

Percentage of U.S. high school students who were current cigar smokers in 2017:10

  • 7.7% of all students in grades 9–12
  • 6.3% of female students in grades 9–12
  • 9.0% of male students in grades 9–12

Middle School Students

Percentage of U.S. middle school students who were current cigar smokers in 2017:10

  • 1.5% of all U.S. students in grades 6–8
  • 1.4% of female students in grades 6–8
  • 1.6% of male students in grades 6–8


  • In 2016, an estimated 12.3 million people in the United States aged 12 years or older (or 4.6%) were current cigar smokers.9

*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 before participation in a survey about this topic.

Marketing Information

Marketing efforts promote cigars as symbols of a luxury and successful lifestyle. The following strategies can contribute to the increased acceptability of cigar smoking: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:11

  • 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.


  1. National Cancer Institute. Cigars: Health Effects and Trends. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph No. 9external icon. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph No. 9. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1998 [accessed 2015 Oct 19].
  2. American Cancer Society. Cigar Smokingexternal icon. Atlanta: American Cancer Society [accessed 2015 Oct 19].
  3. 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 2015 Oct 19].
  4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Rise of Cigars and Cigar-Smoking Harmspdf iconexternal icon[PDF–144 KB] Washington: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids [accessed 2015 Oct 19].
  5. King BA, Tynan MA, Dube SR, Arrazola R. Flavored-Little-Cigar and Flavored-Cigarette Use Among U.S. Middle and High School Studentsexternal icon. Journal of Adolescent Health 2013;54(1):40–6 [accessed 2015 Oct 19].
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flavored Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2015;64(38):1066–70 [accessed 2015 Oct 19].
  7. Gammon DG, Loomis BR, Dench DL, King BA, Fulmer EB, Rogers T. Effect of Price Changes in Little Cigars and Cigarettes on Little Cigar Sales; USA, Q4 2011-Q4 2013external icon. Tobacco Control 2016;25:538-44 [cited 2018 Sep 13].
  8. The Maxwell Report: Cigar Industry in 2015. Richmond (VA): John C. Maxwell, Jr., 2015 [cited 2018 Sep 13].
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, Table 2.32A&Bpdf iconexternal icon[PDF–35 MB]. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2017 [accessed 2018 Sep 13].
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students–United States, 2011-2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2018;67(22):629-33 [accessed 2018 Sep 13].
  11. Federal Trade Commission. Nationwide Labeling Rules for Cigar Packaging and Ads Take Effect Todayexternal icon. Washington: Federal Trade Commission, 2001 [accessed 2015 Oct 19].