Are cigars biodegradable? (7 steps to make cigars)

This article will deal with the biodegradability status of cigars. Other covered aspects would include: 

  • What are cigars made of?
  • How are cigars made?
  • Is cigar harmful to human health?
  • What is biodegradability?
  • Is cigar biodegradable?
  • FAQs

Are cigars biodegradable?

Cigars are indeed biodegradable because cigars are made of pure and unadulterated tobacco. It is claimed that not even a single leaf that makes up cigars is altered or chemically treated in any way.

Cigars may come in three variations that include large cigars, little cigars, and cigarillos. There are around 7 steps that are usually followed for the production of cigars that include steps such as cultivation, curing, fermentation, rolling, and packaging. 

Cigars are considered hazardous to human health and may be a blunt cause of many types of cancer. Other complications such as infertility issues, erectile dysfunction, and behavioural anomalies may also be caused by cigars. 

What are cigars made of?

This section of the article will cover the ingredients that are involved in the making and production of cigars. The source from where the raw materials are extracted will also be given a comment. 

This will help us in constructing the final stance regarding the environmental and human impact of cigars while also empowering us to clarify the biodegradability status of cigars. 

Therefore, let us commence with an introduction to what cigars are. A cigar can be explained or defined as a rolled bundle of tobacco leaves that have to be smoked. 

Cigars are very similar to cigarettes, however, there are some unique and fundamental differences that create an unbridgeable rift between the two. 

The bluntest one is that while cigarettes may be given artificial processing, there is no room for any artificiality or use of preservatives or colourants in the case of cigars. 

Cigars are said to be entitled to those who are passionate about originality and therefore, there is not even a single ounce of commercial chemicals, preservatives, or colourants to achieve the utilitarian value of cigars. 

Cigars are made of pure and unadulterated tobacco. It is claimed that not even a single leaf that makes up cigars is altered or chemically treated in any way. 

Cigars may come in several shapes and sizes based on the personal preference of the consumers. The most common variation of cigars includes a brown-coloured, round-headed cigar. There are usually three types of cigars: 

  • Large cigars
  • Little cigars
  • Cigarillos 

It is claimed that the history of cigars dates back to primal times. The earliest records of smoking rolled-up tobacco leaves are found in the time of native Cubans. 

In the late Eighteenth century, cigars became popular in France and Spain as well. The use of cigars has existed for many centuries. 

It is argued that cigar smoking was considered an act of class and elegance. Many notable figures of the past such as Winston Churchill and Calvin Coolidge used to smoke cigars. 

How are cigars made? (7 steps) 

This section will cover the production process of cigars. This will also help us in developing a lucid stance on the environmental and human-related effects that are caused by cigars. 

The overall making process of cigars can be compartmentalised into the following steps: 

  • Cultivation 
  • Curing
  • Fermentation
  • Stripping
  • Rolling by hand
  • Rolling by machine
  • Finishing 

The production process starts with the cultivation of tobacco. For cigars, the tobacco seeds are cultivated indoors inside the greenhouse. A greenhouse is a glass house that is intended to keep heat energy from the sun so that proper growth of plants can be facilitated. 

The next step in line is the curing of tobacco leaves. This process is done so that the characteristic aroma may be developed. 

From a chemist’s point of view, curing is a process in which the chlorophyll of the leaf is converted to carotene. This process may be done through two approaches. 

One form of curing is dry curing in which air is employed so that the tobacco plants are hung in rightly ventilated spaces. Another form of curing is called flue-curing. This approach makes use of high temperatures to achieve the cured plants so that the characteristic aroma may be achieved. 

The next process is that of fermentation. But before this, the leaves are segregated based on their size. Small leaves are reserved to be used as cigar fillers whereas larger leaves may be used for the inner wrapper or binder. 

The process of fermentation is quite important in the cigar-making process because it leads to a better tasting of tobacco. This fermentation is called microbial fermentation which is done by the facilitation of water, pressure and oxygen. 

Fermentation is simply a process in which sugars are converted into alcohol. In microbial fermentation, the leaves are broken down by the action of microbes. 

The next step is the stripping process. This is done to remove the main stem of the leaves. This is done to ensure the proper and even burning of the cigar. As said, cigars are said to be of the finest quality and therefore, no compromise is done when it comes to the production of cigars. 

The stripping process may be done either by a person or by machines. Obviously, the efficiency will be greater in the case of the latter. 

The next but really important step is the rolling and folding of cigars. This may be done either by hand or by machine. Since it is a very meticulous process, this process requires a high level of expertise. It is said that an artisan may require more than a year to be able to truly fold and roll the cigars. 

However, most of the modern-day cigar rolling is done by the use of machinery. This approach is more accurate and less time consumptive. However, a typical roller machine may require various workers to see and oversee the various functions of the cigars. 

The last part of the cigar production process is where the cigars are checked for their quality, and then finally packed and labelled. This process may also include the sorting out of cigars based on their quality of applicability. 

Is cigar harmful to human health?

It is generally perceived that since there is no amount of artificiality involved in the cigar-making process, there will be no negative effects of cigars on humans. 

However, this perception is far from the truth. It is argued that cigars are actually more harmful than cigarettes. 

The effects of passive smoking of cigars are also more exacerbated as compared to those of cigarettes. 

It is statistically argued that if you smoke cigars, you are more likely to die from diseases such as oral or oesophagal cancer. This probability may be four times greater as compared to that of a non-smoker. 

Other types of cancers that may be caused by the smoking of cigars may include: 

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Cervical cancer

However, the negative effects of cigars are not just limited to cancers. There are also a number of other health-related complications that are caused by smoking cigars. These include: 

  • Addiction
  • Lungs & heart diseases
  • Infertility
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Damage to teeth and gums
  • Bad breath
  • Staining of teeth 
  • Increased sensitivity 

What is biodegradability?

Biodegradability can be defined as a process in which biological agents such as enzymes and microbes break down complex waste into simpler structures. The simpler structures are thus able to get back to the system. 

There are many examples of biodegradation that you come by every day. The most common example will be the spoilage of food or rotten vegetables. It is the microbes in action. 

It is the very process of biodegradation that is responsible for the spoilage of food. It can be termed the necessary evil because on one side food is spoiled but on the other side, it is ensured that there is no waste accumulation. 

If there is waste accumulation, there will be environmental problems and anomalies because the waste will lead to problems such as pollution and human diseases. 

Other than microbes and enzymes, there are also external factors that play a key role in the process of biodegradation. These include aeration, sunlight, temperature, pressure, et cetera. 

Based on biodegradability, waste may be divided into two categories. These are 

  • Biodegradable waste
  • Non-biodegradable waste 

Examples of biodegradable waste include crops, plants, dead animals, manure, sewage, bioplastics, and natural fabrics. These may degrade in some days or some months. 

Examples of non-biodegradable waste may include synthetic plastics, epoxies, synthetic dyes, and synthetic fabrics like acrylic fabrics. These substances may remain in landfills for hundreds of years. 

For example, synthetic plastics may degrade in more than a thousand years while also causing other environmental problems such as global warming, weather anomalies et cetera.

Are cigars biodegradable?

It has been established that for a substance to be biodegradable, it must be made from natural materials rather than non-natural materials. 

We have seen that this is exactly the case for cigars as pure tobacco leaves are used to make cigars. 

Therefore, it can be summarised that cigars are 100% biodegradable and will degrade readily as compared to non-biodegradable materials that may require hundreds of years. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that cigars are indeed biodegradable because cigars are made of pure and unadulterated tobacco. It is claimed that not even a single leaf that makes up cigars is altered or chemically treated in any way.

Cigars may come in three variations that include large cigars, little cigars, and cigarillos. There are around 7 steps that are usually followed for the production of cigars that include steps such as cultivation, curing, fermentation, rolling, and packaging. 

Cigars are considered hazardous to human health and may be a blunt cause of many types of cancer. Other complications such as infertility issues, erectile dysfunction, and behavioural anomalies may also be caused by cigars. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Are cigars biodegradable?

Why are cigars different from cigarettes?

There are many differences between cigars and cigarettes. However, the primary difference is that cigars are made from unaltered tobacco in their purest form. 

What is the role of fermentation in cigar production?

It gives off a distinct aroma and flavour to cigars. 

References

  • Lee, Y. O., Hebert, C. J., Nonnemaker, J. M., & Kim, A. E. (2014). Multiple tobacco products uses among adults in the United States: cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes, hookah, smokeless tobacco, and snus. Preventive medicine, 62, 14-19.
  • Henningfield, J. E., Hariharan, M., & Kozlowski, L. T. (1996). Nicotine content and health risks of cigars. JAMA, 276(23), 1857-1858.
  • Teutsch, S. M., Geller, A. B., Mead, A. M., & National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2022). Premium Cigars: Patterns of Use, Marketing, and Health Effects.
  • Baker, F., Ainsworth, S. R., Dye, J. T., Crammer, C., Thun, M. J., Hoffmann, D., … & Shopland, D. R. (2000). Health risks associated with cigar smoking. Jama, 284(6), 735-740.
  • Sinclair, J. (1999). Environmental effects on health. Nursing Standard (through 2013), 13(26), 42.

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