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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Cigars are defined (by British American Tobacco) as "any roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in any substance containing tobacco, other than any roll of tobacco which is a cigarette."[1] Cigars and cigarettes are taxed differently.[2]

Difference in smoking

Cigar smokers puff, but don't inhale cigar smoke like cigarette smokers do. This means a cigar smoker gets far more smoke into the oral cavity than into the lungs. This requires companies to give them a different smoke chemistry in order to get nicotine into the smoker's system

Difference in chemistry, pH (acid/base balance)

In cigarette smoking, the primary route of nicotine administration is through the lungs. In cigars, because of the lack of inhalation, of necessity it must be through the mucous membranes of the mouth. Tobacco manufacturers adjust the pH of cigar smoke to make it significantly more alkaline. This puts more "free nicotine" into the oral cavity, and assures that a cigar smoker absorbs an adequate amount of nicotine through the oral mucosa.

This difference in the pH of cigar smoke accounts for the different (and significantly more pungent) odor cigars have compared to cigarettes. One tobacco industry document says, "It is always very obvious when one person in a room of smokers lights a cigar."

This document also contains a statement that ammonia is "about 200 times greater" in the sidestream (secondhand smoke)than mainstream smoke "for all [tobacco] products."[3]

Promotion of cigars

A 1997 draft press release from the Philip Morris (PM) document collection mentions how movie star Arnold Schwartzenegger's image has helped increase cigar use and sales around the country:

"News reports from coast to coast show that the cigar smoker's image is now more Arnold Schwartzenegger and less Archie Bunker. The change has been good for the industry. The Cigar Association of America reported last fall that it expected 1996 sales of premium, hand-rolled cigars to hit more than 150 million units, nearly double 1994 sales."[4]

Bodybuilder-turned-movie star-turned politician Arnold Schwartzenegger portrayed primarily action heroes in many Hollywood films in the late 1980's to early 1990's. In 1996, he appeared on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine sporting a stogey.[5] Thus, Mr. Schwartzenegger's name and image became closely associated with tobacco use, particularly cigars.

A 1992 Philip Morris document entitled "Marlboro Target Exploration: Understanding Generation X," reports that when young adult male "Marlboro targets" were asked to name the person whom they admired most, they ranked Arnold Schwartzenegger just below their mothers/ fathers/ grandfathers, and just above retired U.S. General Norman Schwartzkopf in level of admiration. [6]

A 1998 article in the Baltimore Sun described how cigar makers paid Hollywood brokers to get stars like Mr. Schwartzenegger to "wield cigars on television and in the movies." The article credits Mr. Schwartzenegger and other stars like Demi Moore, Madonna, hockey great Wayne Gretzky and model Claudia Schiffer with helping bring cigars back to popularity, to the detriment of public health. The article points out that while federal authorities cracked down on use of film to promote cigarette smoking to youth, cigars escaped the attention of rulemakers and thus their promotion remained unregulated:[7]

Related Sourcewatch resources

External resources


  1. British American Tobacco BATF Definition of a Cigar Report. January 1996. 3 pp. Bates No. 2057761719/1721
  2. L. Gabriel Definition of Cigars April 3, 1978. 2 pp. British American Tobacco Bates No. 100139509-100139510
  3. D.E. Creighton The Significance of pH in Tobacco and Tobacco Smoke Chart/notes. November, 2, 1987. Bates No. 400237344-400237360
  4. D,P New "Cigar Bars" Open Across the Country Press release (draft). 2 pages. February 27, 1997. Bates No. 2070385354/5355
  5. Millionaire Memorabilia Photo of magazine cover of Arnold Schwarzenegger with cigar, accessed September 10, 2009
  6. Ansberry, et al (Marlboro Target Exploration: Understanding Generation X August, 1992 Brand review. 216 pp. August, 1992. Start Bates No. 2041855604, at Page 189
  7. Alec Klein, the Baltimore Sun Three photos (TPN3-5) Tobacco Industry Campaign Promoted Image of Cigars Despite Hazards By Alec Klein (c) 1998, The Baltimore Sun News article. January 30, 1998. 6 pp. Bates No.2071900772/0777