D: Time to go again to the A Moment of Science mailbag. A listener writes:
Dear A Moment of Science,
We all know that smoking cigarettes is bad. But what about smoking a pipe or cigars? Since you don't inhale, is it better for your health? Or at least less bad?
Y: Good question. So first, it's true that cigarettes are in a league of their own when it comes to ruining your health. And it's also true that pipes and cigars have an aura of sophistication and, perhaps, harmless merriment. But the fact is that in their own way, pipes and cigars are plenty bad for you.
D: Right. Like cigarettes, smoking a pipe or cigar is linked to all sorts of cancers. Cancer of the lung, lip, tongue, mouth, and throat, to name a few.
Y: Plus, one study found that people who smoke pipes or cigars are more likely than non-smokers to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. People with the disease have trouble breathing.
D: Finally, if you're not already convinced, pipes and cigars can be just as addictive as cigarettes. After all, you're still smoking tobacco laced with nicotine. And even if you don't inhale deeply, the nicotine still seeps into your bloodstream through the lining of the mouth.
Y: So bottom line, smoking tobacco is bad for you--period. Just because pipes and cigars may seem urbane, there's nothing harmless about them.