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Cigar risks 'equal to cigarettes'

The health risks of smoking cigars are just as severe as from using cigarettes, researchers have said.

The study was carried out in the United States where the consumption of cigars doubled from 6.2 million in 2000 to more than 13.7 billion in 2011 - in contrast with a 33% reduction in cigarette consumption over the same period.

Researchers suggested there is particular concern about cigar use in youth and young adults, with 16% of 18 to 24-year-olds reporting they had smoked cigars at least once in the past 30 days during 2009-10. This has been attributed to the popularity of flavoured cigars, which have flooded the market in recent years.

They analysed a total of 22 studies, including five carried out in the UK, and concluded that the health risks "can be as high as or exceed those of cigarette smoking".

They found those who exclusively smoked cigars and had never smoked other tobacco products had an increased risk of dying, while t he risk of death from oral, oesophageal and lung cancers was found to increase with inhalation of cigar smoke.

Even in those who reported not inhaling cigar smoke, there was an increased risk of death caused by oral, laryngeal and oesophageal cancer.

They also found that those who smoked cigars and had previously smoked cigarettes had a much higher risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease compared to cigar smokers who had not previously smoked cigarettes.

The team said they believed this could be due in part to the inhalation patterns of these different types of cigar smokers.

Lead researcher Cindy Chang, of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which carried out the analysis, said: "The results reinforce the fact that cigar smoking carries many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking.

"Cigar smoking is linked to fatal oral, oesophageal, pancreatic, laryngeal, and lung cancers, as well as heart disease and aortic aneurysm."

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