How to Smoke A Cigar Without Looking Like A Jerk October 18, 2015 23:30


We’ve done the legwork for you. Below are a few honest pointers on how to enjoy your cigar in a social setting followed by a few helpful How To’s. A big thank you goes out to Lior Ben-Ami, owner of The Cigar Exchange in Wilmington, NC for his helpful guidance!


Cigar smoking tag
Original photo by Matt Preston


First, a word on etiquette.


We agree. There’s nothing better than celebrating with friends and family or capturing a small escape from your daily routine. Sitting back and smoking a cigar can be a great way to unplug; however, keep in mind a few of the unspoken rules to avoid looking like ‘that guy.’



Stay aware of and respect your surroundings
Before lighting up, if someone requests you refrain from smoking respect that. Keep in mind if you light your cigar simply to make a point to others, your experience is going to be dictated and likely interrupted by that choice. There is a right time and a place to savor your cigar, after all, it’s all about the experience.


Be mature about it
This is a selfie-free zone. This should go without saying especially if you’re in public.


Drop the pretension
Sure, in the past cigar smoking has been associated with wealth, success, or high social status, but these days marking your accomplishments or identity with an obscure or expensive purchase is downright lame. You’re better than that.


Be confident
It’s all about enjoying yourself and living in the moment. Be confident in your cigar selection and how you savor it.


How To's:



Keep ‘em fresh. Unless you know you’re ready to take on cigar smoking as a serious hobby, purchasing a humidor isn’t recommended. We suggest only buying as many cigars as you can consume within a week. If you need your cigars to last longer, a good cigar shop should have specially designed pouches that can keep your cigar fresh for a few months.

Note: A common misconception is storing new cigars in the refrigerator, but this practice actually dries out the cigars faster than storing them in a simple air tight container.

 Cigar humidor

Original photo by A. Babaian



A cigar needs to be cut in order to smoke it because you need to create an opening where air and smoke can pass through the body of the cigar. To use a cigar cutter or cigar scissors, carefully but firmly cut through the cigar roughly ¼ of an inch below the head of the cigar.

Note: Be sure to invest in a decent cigar cutter. A handful of poorly cut and therefore ruined cigars will quickly add up to the cost of a small, yet effective guillotine or v-cutter.   



Patience is the key word here. When lighting your cigar, carefully hold the stick in your hand above the match or lighter, but do not touch the cigar to the flame! Slowly rotate the cigar until the entire foot of the cigar is glowing. Next, raise the cigar to your mouth and take your first puff. If needed, add a little support from your flame to ensure the cigar is properly lit.

Note: Be sure to only use a wooden match or butane lighter to light your cigar. Why?


Man lighting cigar
Original photo by John Hope




This is one of the easiest ways to avoid looking downright goofy. Hold your cigar with the respect it deserves. Need some direction? Here are a few pointers.



Remember to puff and not inhale. Cigars are meant to be savored. Let the smoke fill your mouth, take note of the nuances in flavor, and then exhale. The general  rule is to wait 30 to 60 seconds between each puff. This allows the cigar to cool and will keep the burning speed of the tobacco at a minimum without completely extinguishing the cigar.  

Note: The wider the cigar, the more oxygen exposure, which equals a slower burn rate.


Discarding ashes

When smoking, you want to build up and maintain a decent amount of ash on the foot of the cigar. This enhances the flavor of the cigar and allows it to stay cool during your smoke session. Let the ash fall naturally as you smoke or if you must, touch the foot of the cigar to the ashtray and gently roll the ash off. (No tapping, it’s considered rude!



Ashing cigar
Original photo by CafeBici




“Never snuff your cigar. Let it extinguish on its own by setting it on the channel of the ashtray, otherwise you will ruin something wonderful which passed through 200 careful hands before coming to you.” A solid etiquette lesson from Lior, owner of The Cigar Exchange. Once you’ve finished your cigar, set it safely on the ash tray and let it burn down, it will slowly cool and fully extinguish by itself.

Black and White Vintage - Guys smoking cigars
Original photo from The Powerhouse Museum



Continuing the Journey

It’s a communal thing. It was apparent at The Cigar Exchange that patrons love to stop by and take part in this storied tradition together. Whether they’re recounting their day or commenting on the characteristics of what they’re smoking, there is always a rich conversation going on between pulls and the exhalation of spiraling smoke.

There’s no hidden formula. If you’ve found a flavor profile or brand you like, then keep exploring cigars with similar characteristics. If you’re still searching, dig deeper into the humidor, browse blogs like Cigar Insider, or better yet, ask the guy sitting next to you what he enjoys about his favorite smoke.


What's your favorite cigar?