"There haven't been good data in the United States from a large study showing that first, people who smoke cigars and pipes inhale the smoke and second, that on a long-term basis they have damage to their lungs," he said.
The study results show clearly that cigar and pipe smokers are exposed to toxins and run the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive destruction of airways than can be crippling. Emphysema and chronic obstructive bronchitis are the two major forms of COPD, which is a leading cause of death among U.S. adults.
"Physicians should consider pipe and cigar smoking a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and counsel their patients to quit," Barr said.
"There is a public perception that this is a safer habit," said Dr. Neil Schachter, professor of medicine and community medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Tobacco companies have promoted that perception, he said.
"Cigarette companies realize there is a decreasing demand for cigarettes and have tried to push tobacco products in different ways," Schachter said. "They have been able to promote this image that smoking cigars and pipes is safer than smoking cigarettes. This article goes a long way toward showing this is not true."
Smokers don't often pursue medical advice about smoking, he said. "It is something patients don't go to doctors to ask about," Schachter said."'What should I smoke'? The answer is, 'Nothing'."
The facts on smoking and pulmonary disease are provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: R. Graham Barr, M.D
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