Cigar Smoking Etiquette for Newbies

RAFAEL TORRES March 1, 2016
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As part of our weekly blog posts we would like to speak about smoking practices when smoking your favorite cigar. While it may be customary for men to break out the cigars after the birth of their child or upon celebrating their nuptials, not all men are necessarily accustomed to proper etiquette when it comes to lighting, holding and smoking a fine cigar. In fact, the act of cigar smoking is a fine art, and only those who are well-versed in the realm of this activity truly understand the art form involved.

That said, those who are new to the world of cigar smoking can still learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to proper etiquette to follow in order to be a distinguished cigar-smoking gentleman.

History of Cigar Etiquette

Where exactly did cigar smoking etiquette come from, and who is responsible for establishing these rules?

That role was taken up by Zino Davidoff, who was one of the first to publish an etiquette guide in 1967 entitled, “Zino Davidoff’s Guide to Cigar Etiquette.” Nearly five decades later, the rules he penned in his essay still ring true today.

Zino Davidoff

Zino Davidoff displays the proper way to hold a cigar.

While rules might often be made to be broken, the entire goal of this unique etiquette is to make cigar smoking as pleasurable as possible both for smokers, as well as those around them.

Cigar Smoking Rules of Etiquette

In our modern day and age, we now have the responsibility to adhere to smoking laws and rules that have been recently established. For this reason, before even pulling out a cigar and lighting it, it’s important to first determine whether or not the location you plan on toking on your cigar permits such activity in the first place.

Even if there are no specific laws or rules governing whether or not cigar smoking is permitted, it’s still common courtesy to ask those around you if lighting a cigar would be bothersome or not.

Once you’ve found a spot where cigar smoking is legal and even welcomed, the following rules apply to ensure you’re smoking like a true cigar gentleman.

  • Slightly warm the foot of the cigar before puffing on it – Rather than initially exposing the foot of the cigar to a flame, simply roll the cigar in your hands to allow your natural body heat to warm it up slightly prior to taking your first puff.
  • Light your cigar at the right pace – This practice comes with experience. While you want to take time enjoying the actual lighting experience, you also don’t want to take too long. Give the lighting process your full attention so your cigar can be lit continually yet with caution.
  • Never light another man’s cigar – People who are new to the world of cigar smoking might not realize that’s it’s actually impolite to light another person’s cigar. If you do, the flavor may be unintentionally ruined. For this reason, it’s best to let others light their own stogies.
  • Know when it’s time to remove the band – The band of the cigar is the decorative paper that simply displays the cigar’s brand. There have been debates about the right time to remove it after lighting a cigar.

Cigar Structure

The cigar anatomy displays its brand, and should be carefully removed at some point after lighting.

Some argue that leaving the band on for too long means the smoker is showing off, particularly if the brand is an expensive one. Others argue that leaving the band on helps to protect the delicate wrapper leaf.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to simply wait until the glue on the band has warmed up enough to loosen it, after which it will fall off much more easily. Or else, it’s customary to follow your host’s actions.

  • Hold the cigar between your index finger and thumb – How you hold the cigar while enjoying it makes all the difference. Every cigar enthusiast knows that it’s customary to hold the cigar between the index finger and thumb, which is typically the first rule to be learned. Holding it in this manner is much more elegant-looking than holding it between your index and middle fingers.
  • Never chew on your cigar – Gentlemen gently puff on their cigars between their lips, and never clench down on them with their teeth. In addition, it’s recommended that you wait until the cigar is removed from your mouth before starting to speak.
  • Let the cigar go out on its own without snubbing it – Once your cigar has been smoked halfway, it will go out without any help from you. Snubbing the cigar out is improper, and is what separates the novices from the veterans. It’s typical to smoke the cigar until it’s about three-quarters finished – never should a cigar be smoked right down to the nub.
  • Quickly and discreetly dispose of an extinguished cigar – Cigar butts are no more attractive and tasteful than cigarette butts. For this reason, it’s proper etiquette to quickly and discreetly get rid of the cigar’s remnants once it’s done.
  • Don’t light up so soon after extinguishing your last cigar – Starting up another cigar less than 15 minutes before finishing your last one will make it appear as if this is an obsessive activity for you. You don’t want to look like an addict, so it’s best to give it some time before you consider lighting up another cigar.

Smoking a cigar truly is a luxury, and should be enjoyed as such. Be sure to brush up on proper cigar smoking etiquette before you light up with your gentlemen friends so you can make a great impression.

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