Cigarillos—Small Size, Big Health Hazards

Consider the fact that Paterson has more than 300 stores selling tobacco-related products (80 in the 1st Ward alone!), and it’s no wonder our city’s high school students use tobacco more and more as time passes.

One telling statistic reveals that while just 7.4% of Paterson freshmen used tobacco, more than 33% of seniors said they did.

A popular product among youth are cigarillos. Cigarillos are best described as short, narrow cigars wrapped in tobacco leaves or paper. Although cigarillos are smaller than regular cigars, they are highly addictive (because of their nicotine content) and can lead to other health hazards.

“There is a common misconception among youth that cigarillos are safer than cigarettes,” explains Andriana Herrera, Program Manager. “But the truth is they are equally as harmful to an adolescent’s health.”

Cigarillos and Cigars Are Dangerous

The negative health effects of cigars and cigarillos are extensive:

  • Reduced Lung Growth
  • Reduced Lung Function
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

Why are they so dangerous? In cigarillos, filter paper theoretically removes the tar and nicotine from the product when smoked. But cigarillos and cigar smokers are still exposed to ammonia, cadmium, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide because it causes smokers to take deeper puffs that can all lead to cancer of mouth (Caruso, 2015). Also, cigars and cigarillos do not have filters to reduce tar, nicotine, and other substances that cause cancer. Like other tobacco products, cigars and cigarillos contain nicotine.

These statistics reveal the harsh truth:

  • Cigar smokers double their risk for a stroke and heart attack.
  • Cigar smokers are at a higher risk of emphysema, bronchitis, and other lung disease including peptic ulcers.
  • Secondhand cigar smoking from cigars and cigarillos carry the same effects as secondhand cigarette smoke.


By definition, a cigarillo is a short, narrow cigar typically wrapped in tobacco leaves or brown tobacco-based paper.

  • Cigarillos are normally smaller than regular cigars but usually larger than cigarettes.
  • Cigarillos are usually made without filters, and are meant to be smoked like a cigar and not inhaled.
  • Cigarillos are usually known by their manufacturer label such as Phillies, White Owl, Dutch Masters, and Black N’ Mild.

P-CASA is working to build a better Paterson.

P-CASA understands the importance of decreasing the number of cigars and cigarillos being smoked by Paterson youth. With that in mind, we are:

  • Developing social media marketing and education campaigns that inform and educate the community on the impact of cigar and cigarillos use.
  • Establishing relationships with local sellers of tobacco to learn the latest trends in selling tobacco products to minors, including the sale of cigars and cigarillos.
  • Adopting policies and developing an ordinance to regulate and reduce the sales of cigarillos to youth.



  • Caruso, R. V., O'Connor, R. J., Travers, M. J., Delnevo, C. D., & Stephens, W. E. (2015). Design Characteristics and Tobacco Metal Concentrations in Filtered Cigars. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 17(11), 1331. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntu341
  • Li, W., Gouveia, T., Sbarra, C., Harding, N., Kane, K., Hayes, R., & Reid, M. (2017). Has Boston's 2011 cigar packaging and pricing regulation reduced availability of single-flavoured cigars popular with youth? Tobacco Control, (2).