Tobacco Smoke Is Unhealthy In Any Form

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A report in the February 16 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine confirms that cigars and pipes are not a healthy alternative to cigarettes.

The Study

More than 3,500 adults were examined in order to test the widespread belief among some smokers that smoke from cigars and pipes is not inhaled and, therefore, is less dangerous. Cotinine levels--a byproduct of metabolized nicotine--were measured in the 9% of adults who were pipe smokers and 11% who were cigar smokers. Although levels were lower than those found in cigarette smokers, they were still significant. Additionally, pipe or cigar smokers didn't perform as well as nonsmokers on a test of breathing ability, showing more than twice the incidence of airway obstruction.

What Does This Mean?

Lead study author Dr. R. Graham Barr says the study was conducted in response to the current shift away from cigarettes to pipes and cigars. "There haven't been good data in the United States from a large study showing that first, people who smoke cigars and pipes inhale the smoke and second, that on a long-term basis they have damage to their lungs," he said. And this is exactly what the study found--smoking cigars or pipes instead of cigarettes still exposes smokers to toxins and increases their risk of developing a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) like emphysema. While many people perceive cigars and pipes to be safer than cigarettes--a perception promoted by tobacco companies--they are still a dangerous habit.

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