The time to quit smoking is now

Published 3:13 pm Monday, May 31, 2021

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By the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition

Historically, cigar smoking in the United States has been a behavior of older men. But the industry’s increased marketing has produced an uptick in cigar use among adolescents, especially flavored cigars, to attract new and younger smokers.

Rusty Shackelford, a 40 year old male from Madison County tells his story.

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“I started smoking cigars at 17. I thought I was bulletproof, I didn’t care about my heath.” Shackelford said. “Flavored cigars taste delicious, and I thought I looked so cool. But now I’m addicted. Now I smoke cigarettes and cigars.”

According to the 2018-2020 Mississippi Youth Tobacco Survey Report, just 0.4 percent of middle school students and 2.2 percent of high school students report frequent cigar use.

However, of those middle and high school students who were recent cigar users, 43.6 percent reported smoking flavored cigars, according to 2018 U.S. statistics.

Male students made up a higher portion of cigar smokers compared to their female peers.

Regular cigar smoking is associated with an increased risk for cancers of the lung, throat, voice box and mouth. Those cigar smokers who inhale deeply are at an increased risk for developing coronary heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission mandated that cigar packaging and advertisements must display one of the following five warnings:

  • Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale.
  • Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease.
  • Tobacco use increases the risk of infertility, stillbirth, and low birth weight.
  • Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
  • Tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, even in nonsmokers.

“Quitting smoking yields large and immediate benefits to your health, no matter when you quit,” said Shirley Brown, Director of the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition of Adam, Jefferson and Franklin Counties. “These benefits are more important now than ever.”

For information and resources about the dangers of cigars visit

For help with quitting visit, or call the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.