Cigars totem of luxury or health hazard?
Basketball legend Michael Jordan and ice hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky celebrated championships with them.
Cigars, long associated with many of the world's rich, famous and powerful people, have been enjoying a major comeback in popularity in the past few years. This revival has prompted a fresh assessment by the medical community of the health risks posed by smoking cigars, with Surgeon General David Satcher, America's top physician, personally sounding the alarm.
BIG INCREASE SEEN IN CIGAR SMOKING
Sales of cigars increased by 50 percent in the United States between 1993 and 1998, reversing two decades of decline, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cigarette sales declined 3 percent during the same period.
MEDICAL EVIDENCE ABOUT CIGARS PILES UP
The quantity and quality of medical research on cigar smoking pales in comparison to that on cigarettes. But several important studies completed recently conclude that regular cigar smokers face serious health hazards.
A study published in June in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that regular cigar smokers face a risk double that of nonsmokers for cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and lung. It also found that they suffer a 45 percent higher risk of chronic obstructive lung disease and a 27 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.