Immediate Effects of Nicotine on Cigar Smokers

The impact is minimal in most people and with most cigars

Smoking a cigar
Michael Blann/Getty Images

When cigar smokers light up, they hope to experience an explosion of flavors described by one cigar maker as a "party in your mouth." Hoping to discover a blend of distinctive flavors that will become your new favorite is part of the appeal of sampling cigars. But cigars generally contained nicotine, which can affect your health for the short term and the long term.

Nicotine Ingestion Less Than With Cigarettes

Cigars contain varying amounts of nicotine though, unlike with cigarettes, smoke isn't inhaled if cigars are smoked properly. Most cigar smokers don't smoke every day; some smoke only a few times a year. They enjoy the taste of premium tobacco smoke as hobbyists and shouldn't automatically be considered addicts, just as wine connoisseurs aren't automatically labeled alcoholics. So the effects of nicotine are a lesser health concern for occasional cigar smokers than for cigarette smokers because of the manner and frequency with which cigars are smoked.

Cigar Nicotine Might Affect Smokers Immediately

The nicotine in cigars does have an effect on cigar smokers, and not just cancer and other long-range health risks. Nicotine causes temporary effects that one may notice while smoking cigars, excluding medically measurable issues that aren't significantly noticeable while smoking, such as blood pressure and heart rate fluctuations, as well as temporary effects such as coughing and halitosis that may result from other substances contained in cigars or by the smoke itself.

No Immediate Nicotine Effect Likely

The level of nicotine in most cigars shouldn't be enough to produce immediate and significantly noticeable effects if the cigar is smoked properly. However, nicotine levels do affect the taste of cigar tobacco, especially the stronger Ligero tobacco leaves from the top of the plant. Aging also affects the taste and level of nicotine, making the flavor more mellow over time as nicotine and other substances dissipate. Nicotine is a necessary "evil" in cigars and can't be removed or reduced drastically without adversely affecting flavor.

Categories of Nicotine Impact

Three categories classify the effect of cigars with enough nicotine to produce immediate and noticeable temporary effects, besides the impact on flavor:

  • Level 1 nicotine effects: The effect of smoking a cigar with higher than normal nicotine content is similar to that produced by caffeine in a cup of coffee. Your senses seem to sharpen, your vision becomes clearer, and you might feel a greater awareness or cognizance, but without the jittery nervous energy generated by caffeine.
  • Level 2 nicotine effects: The next level of nicotine impact is similar to the effect of drinking several alcoholic beverages. You might become a bit dizzy or light-headed, but without the euphoria that alcohol produces. Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how a particular cigar affects you.
  • Level 3 nicotine effects: Cigar sickness from nicotine occurs when you experience a feeling similar to seasickness. You are not only dizzy; you are sweating and feel nauseous. If this happens, eating something sweet and drinking plenty of water will help reduce the effects.

Conclusion

The vast majority of premium handmade cigars don't produce noticeable immediate nicotine effects. If you smoke a variety of brands, however, you are more likely to encounter a cigar that is just too strong for you. For typical cigar smokers, the chance of getting sick from smoking one brand of mild cigars is significantly less than for those who smoke a different cigar every time they light up.

Watch Now: How to Restore a Dried-out Cigar