It's a popular myth that because you don't inhale the smoke from cigars, that they are safer than cigarettes when it comes to lung function and the threat of lung diseases. You might think it's okay to move on to cigars, if you've been diagnosed with COPD, because of this myth. In lieu of a recent medical study done on those over the age of 60, this is definitely not the case. More lung function can actually be lost if you smoke cigars.
In this study conducted in 2010, the lung function of 3,528 people was monitored. All of the participants were at risk for cardiovascular diseases, and most of them were in their mid 60s. Seventy-two percent of them smoked tobacco, 9% of which smoked a pipe, 11% smoked cigars and the remaining 52% smoked cigarettes.
There was a chemical in the blood and urine of those who smoked cigars, called cotinine, which is a chemical that takes the place of nicotine in the blood of those who smoke cigars instead of cigarettes. The fact that cotinine levels were higher in those who smoke cigars shows that smoke does indeed get absorbed through the lungs, even if you don't inhale.
The study also showed a higher level of cotinine in those whose lung function was lower than in those who smoked cigarettes. The lung function was tested with a spirometry test. A spirometry test requires the patient to exhale and inhale into a mouth piece, and their lung function is then recorded and read by a machine. The recorded lung functions in those who smoked cigars or pipes were significantly lower than in those who smoked cigarettes.
Obstructed airflow and COPD are results from tobacco smoke, whether its from cigarettes, cigars or pipes. It's important that you quit smoking all forms of tobacco immediately once you are diagnosed with COPD, or any other lung or cardiovascular disease. The dangers of loss of quality of life are higher than in any other preventable disease.
Smoking cigars or using any other type of tobacco also puts you at a much higher risk for developing throat and mouth cancer. They can also lead to gum disease and tooth loss. You have an increased risk of heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which are both under the COPD umbrella.
It's also true that you can significantly slow the progression of the disease if you completely quit smoking. You can try the newer invention of the electronic cigarette, which you can use to gradually decrease your nicotine levels without torturing yourself. With electronic cigarettes, you also get the habitual motion of putting something like a cigarette in your mouth, without the harmful smoke.