Cigar Use: The Impact on Your Heath and Term Life Insurance Policy

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Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites. You can find him on Twitter.

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UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020

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Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the US. And despite the strong link between tobacco use and cancer rates, a whopping 46.6 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Here are some of the grim statistics from the National Cancer Institute:

  • Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 443,000 deaths per year.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the US.
  • Smokers are up to 6 times more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers.
  • Approximately 20% of high school students are cigarette smokers.

Table of Contents

Cigar Dangers

Many believe cigars provide a ‘safer’ and more socially acceptable alternative to cigarettes. While the later may be true, the fact is cigars might be more toxic than cigarettes. The National Cancer Institute gives these facts about cigars and the associated disease risk:

  • Cigars contain higher levels of cancer-causing substances, tar and of toxins than cigarettes.
  • Cigar use can cause cancers of the esophagus, oral cavity, larynx, lungs, and pancreas.
  • Daily cigar users are at an increased risk of heart disease and other cancers.

Cigar Misnomers

A common misconception among cigar smokers is they are not at risk because they do not inhale the smoke. However, non-inhalers don’t get a free pass as even puffing will expose the entire oral cavity to the toxic chemicals. The saliva will absorb chemicals also, and in turn will be swallowed, exposing the esophagus and digestive tract to the carcinogens. Most of the health risks are directly related to the degree of smoke exposure.

Some of the more dangerous chemicals in cigars include:

  • Nitrosamines
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Ammonia
  • Cadmium

While it is true cigarette smokers experience more cancers of the larynx than non-inhaling cigar users, the incidence of oral and esophageal cancers are about the same for both user types.

Regardless, most life insurance companies will allow occasional or recreational cigar use without penalty. Some companies will allow up to one cigar per week without penalty. We recommend you disclose any cigar use to your agent or broker so she can advise you of the best company to apply with.

For more information on cigar use and term life insurance, see our previous blog entry on the subject.

Are you a cigar smoker or do you know one? How do you/they feel about occasional cigar use?

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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