Cigar Etiquette for the Casual Cigar Smoker
New to cigars, or just a casual smoker looking for a few cigar etiquette tips? It can be an intimidating world especially if you find yourself in a swanky cigar lounge surrounded by a bunch of experienced cigar enthusiasts. Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the world of cigar smoking.
1. Don’t inhale
Okay, this may seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve witnessed the “casual” smoker make this mistake. Cigars are not designed to be inhaled like cigarettes (or e-cigarettes, for that matter), they’re meant to be tasted and enjoyed. Once you light your cigar, you should take short puffs – smell the aroma (it should be pleasant, or you’ve done something wrong), and taste the tobacco.
2. Take your time
The act (or art) of cigar smoking is designed to be a relaxing experience – it’s not a race. Beating your buddy to the bottom of the stick doesn’t win any brownie points, and you can ruin a once fine cigar in the process. You want the cigar to remain cool, and not burn too hot – a hot cigar can be uncharacteristically strong and unpleasant. It’s said that a puff every 30 seconds to one minute is about the right speed; your cigar will stay lit, but stay cool enough to thoroughly enjoy.
3. Don’t light someone else’s cigar
Yes, it may seem like you’re offering a helping hand. But no, don’t do it. Trust me, we appreciate the gesture, but we like to light our own cigars. Why? Everyone lights a cigar a little differently, and we each have our preferences. Plus, the lighting of a cigar is fundamental to how it will smoke – the most important part! If you need cigar etiquette tips on how to properly light a cigar, click here.
4. Don’t take your band off until it’s time (or at all)
Outside of style and preference, there are actually some reasons why your band should stay on. First, the band of your cigar is glued together – don’t try to slide it off your cigar, or you could end up with a cracked wrapper – bad news. Wait until you light your cigar, and if you really want to take that band off, the cigar will have heated up the glue, and you can peel it right off the cigar. Once the cigar is lit and the band is safe to remove, the choice to keep it on or not is yours; it really is an individual stylistic choice. If you want to keep that band on, it’s perfectly fine – plus, if it’s a great cigar, you have something to remember it by.
5. Let your cigar go out with dignity
Number five is probably the most important cigar etiquette on this list – don’t stub out your cigar. Some cigar smokers will smoke their cigar down until they have about a third of it left (if they’re enjoying it, that is) – the last third can sometimes be a bit strong, and you wouldn’t want to ruin the experience. Of course others will smoke it until they can no longer safely hold the cigar, enjoying every last puff. In either case, when you’re finished with your cigar, just let it go out. It will go out on its own, and you’ll enjoy the last of its pleasant smell. Just don’t mash it into the ashtray – it smells bad and really is unnecessary.
6. If you’re headed to a cigar lounge, don’t ‘BYOC’
Cigar lounges are fantastic spots to enjoy cigars and talk with fellow cigar enthusiasts. You shouldn’t, however, bring your own cigars – unless you’re planning on replacing them with purchases from the lounge. If you’re at a cigar lounge that sells cigars, plan on buying a few, and ask for suggestions – you may find something you haven’t tried before, and it may become your new favorite.
7. Assess the room
If you’re smoking in a public place, take a look at the environment you’re in, and smoke as such. In a swanky, downtown cigar lounge that’s dark and quiet inside? Enjoy your cigar in peace and use the time to relax while the rest of the lounge does the same. At a family barbecue with corn hole games running rampant? Well then some good chatter may be appropriate. Bottom line is, know your audience. Some people want to enjoy their cigar in relative peace and quiet. Avoid those controversial subjects that may spark some heavy conversation (politics and religion come to mind…) and keep the subjects on the lighter side. Most importantly, enjoy your cigar! Healthy conversations around cigars are usually a welcome topic with groups of cigar aficionados.