What Is the Proper Etiquette for Smoking a Cigar?

smoking a cigar by jay | Posted on January 26th, 2023

Cigars are a special experience for many cigar fans, and it’s important to know the proper etiquette for smoking one.

smoking a cigar

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced smoker, this blog post gives you all the tips and tricks to ensure that your cigar-smoking experience is always enjoyable.

Don’t dip your cigar in whiskey

It is important to remember that you should never dip your cigar in whiskey or any other type of alcohol. This is true regardless of the cigar’s price, as it can ruin the flavor profile for someone else. Additionally, while there are whiskey and bourbon-infused cigars available, you should never attempt to make one yourself.

Don’t stub out the cigar

Don’t smash your cigar into the ashtray when you’re finished smoking or taking a break. This creates an unpleasant odor and a mess. Knowing how far down to smoke a cigar is mostly a personal preference. Letting it die naturally ensures you avoid unpleasant odors and practice proper cigar etiquette. Enjoy the experience and take time to get the most out of it.

Cut it right

Cutting the cap or head of a handmade cigar must be done carefully and precisely before lighting it. The best place to cut is right on the shoulders of the cigar, removing the top of the cap as if it were a thin layer of skin but not cutting into the body.

A good cut will keep the cigar from unraveling as you smoke and ensure a smooth draw. Mastering a few simple but invaluable techniques for cutting and lighting your cigar can make the experience even more enjoyable.

Position the blades right on the cigar, just inside the end of the cap, and cut along the cigar’s shoulder with one smooth motion. If you use a guillotine cutter, keep your fingers away from where you are cutting. Once cut, you can then prepare your cigar for smoking.

Light the cigar

Once you’ve carefully removed the band and are ready to light your cigar, you should keep some important etiquette rules in mind. Toast it but don’t over-roast it, and remember that it’s not polite to light someone else’s cigar or to ask them to light yours. With proper consistency and technique, you can ensure that your smoking experience is enjoyable and flavorful.

Remove the band carefully after lighting

Once the cigar is lit, it is important to remove the band carefully. Take your time, as it should only take a minute for the gum on the cigar band to be warm enough to remove without damaging the wrapper leaf.

Some prefer to take off the band before smoking, as they believe it can improve the feel of the cigar. No matter when you remove it, however, proper etiquette dictates that you should take care and not rush the process.

Don’t hold your cigar like a cigarette

When smoking a cigar, it is important to remember that it is not the same as smoking a cigarette. Therefore, never hold your cigar like you would a cigarette. The most common way to hold a cigar is between your index finger and thumb.

Alternatively, many cigar users who favor tradition will hold the cigar with their first and middle fingers. Whatever grip you prefer, keep the flame far from the foot of the cigar but close enough to light it evenly. Keeping your cigar in a proper grip is key to smoking it correctly and enjoying the experience!

Know how far down to smoke the cigar

When smoking a cigar, it is important to know how far to smoke it. It is best to smoke the cigar down until the heat of the tobacco nears your fingertips. This will ensure you get the best flavor out of your cigar and don’t burn up too much of the wrapper. Once you reach this point, you can use an ashtray or a snuffer box to put out the remaining embers.

Don’t inhale the cigar smoke

Don’t inhale the cigar smoke – when smoking a cigar; the smoke should be held in the mouth only and, occasionally, can be moved up toward the nose. Cigarette smokers can tend to inhale naturally, but that’s not the case with cigars.

Cigars aren’t cigarettes, so don’t bother inhaling cigar smoke. Smoking cigars is about savoring the aroma and flavors, not getting a heightened dose of nicotine. Taking cigar smoke into your lungs will only allow you to get a nicotine buzz at the expense of all those great flavors. Tastebuds are in your tongue, not your lungs.

Don’t relight your cigar too soon

Once you have lit your cigar, be sure not to relight it too soon. Relighting it will only harshen your smoke and diminish the quality of your experience. This should be a continual process – take your time to enjoy the lighting process, and don’t stall or pause.

Smoke It Slow

Smoking a cigar slowly is key to an enjoyable experience. Take your time to slowly draw the smoke and savor it, just like a meal. Ignoring this rule would result in hot, unpleasant smoke.

Smoking a cigar too quickly can also be seen as addictive behavior, so leave some time between draws.

Don’t rush it—slow and cool is the way to go. Too much direct contact of flame to tobacco and your cigar might end up tasting like pure char. It’s always better to light in low-wind conditions. On top of that, ensure you don’t inhale the smoke – this is an experience for taste, not for air intake!

Don’t Share Your Cigar

Smoking a cigar is an enjoyable pastime, but there is a certain etiquette to follow to ensure that everyone around you is comfortable and appreciates the experience. Sharing your cigar with another person can be seen as a sign of respect, but it’s important to note that not everyone may feel the same way.

It’s best to keep your cigar to yourself, or if you want to share it, make sure the other person is aware that they are receiving it as a gift. Doing this will help make sure that your cigar-smoking experience remains enjoyable for everyone involved.

Enjoy the experience

Once the cigar has been lit, it’s time to relax and enjoy the experience. Take your time and savor the flavor of the cigar. If you are in a lounge, talk with other cigar aficionados, and take in the atmosphere. Don’t try to finish the cigar too quickly—a good cigar should last for at least an hour. Enjoying a cigar is all about taking your time and enjoying the unique taste of each puff.

smoking a cigar


Self proclaimed cigar expert. I've been smoking since 2010. I've practically lived at a cigar lounge from 10am to 10pm and trying every new cigar that came out for years.

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