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Top Cigar Etiquettes: Smoke Like a Cigar Aficionado 

Welcome to the world of cigar smoking, where tradition, camaraderie, a rich history, and appreciation for fine craftsmanship come together. If you’re new to cigars or want to enhance your smoking experience, mastering cigar etiquette is essential.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the do’s and don’ts of cigar smoking, helping you enjoy your cigars like a seasoned aficionado. So, let’s light up and dive in! 

Cutting and Lighting a Cigar

Properly cutting and lighting your cigar is crucial to ensuring an enjoyable experience. Let’s explore the following steps to becoming a true aficionado.

Proper cigar etiquette extends beyond cutting and lighting. Here are some additional tips for handling your cigar like a true aficionado: 

Avoid tapping or flicking ash

The ash will naturally accumulate at the foot as you enjoy your cigar. While it may be tempting to tap or flick the ash to remove it, refrain. Ashing your cigar is an essential part of the smoking experience, and you certainly don’t want to end up ashing into an empty beer can (unless you’re in a pinch). Ideally, suppose you’re indoors and have a lovely ceramic or glass cigar ashtray in front of you. In that case, it makes the process much easier.

These ashtrays are designed with a deep dish to hold plenty of ashes. Additionally, most of them come equipped with cigar rests or stirrups, providing a secure spot to place your cigar between puffs without the fear of it rolling off the edge. 

Holding Your Cigar

A true cigar aficionado knows that holding a cigar with finesse is vital to a satisfying smoke. Tight gripping can lead to uneven burning and a bitter taste, so it’s best to avoid that. Instead, aim for the ideal hold—between your index finger and thumb, with a gentle and confident touch. This relaxed grip allows for better airflow and ensures a comfortable and enjoyable smoking experience. One thing to steer clear of is holding the cigar between your index and middle finger, as it can look unnatural and less sophisticated–you’ll constantly read my famous line, ‘a cigar is not a cigarette.’ So, opt for the proper hold, and you’ll be well on your way to savoring your cigar like a true aficionado. 

Let the Cigar Rest Between Draws

Cigar-smoking is all about savoring the moment and enjoying a leisurely experience. A true cigar aficionado would always take their time with it! After each puff, take a moment to let the cigar rest between draws. This short interval is vital because it allows the tobacco to cool down, preventing the cigar from overheating and becoming bitter. Not only that, but it also gives the flavors a chance to settle, resulting in a more even burn. Remember, the art of taking your time with a cigar is part of what makes the whole experience so pleasurable. So, kick back, relax, and relish every puff like a true cigar connoisseur. 

Respect Non-Smokers

Not everyone may appreciate the aroma of cigar smoke, so be mindful of those around you. If you’re in a non-smoking area or with non-smokers, refrain from smoking or politely ask if they mind before lighting up.

Alternatively, excuse yourself from your company and invite other cigar smokers to join you in the designated smoking space. Be respectful of your host’s setting and use the ashtrays provided for you or ask for one. 

Avoid Excessive Smoke

Cigars produce more substantial smoke than cigarettes, so try to blow the smoke away from others. Be considerate of the wind direction, especially in outdoor settings. 

Don’t Be a Scrounger

In a cigar lounge, whether you know the people around you or not, asking others for smoke is considered poor form. While many cigar aficionados are happy to share their cutter or lighter, requesting cigars from others is not in line with proper cigar lounge etiquette. Instead, you must ensure you have a plentiful supply of cigars to sample yourself.

Bringing your selection shows respect for others’ cigars and allows you to fully enjoy the experience without putting anyone in an uncomfortable position. So, be prepared with your cigars and relish the camaraderie and enjoyment of the cigar lounge with your fellow enthusiasts. However, if you are offered a cigar, accept it gracefully without fussing—see the next point. 

Respect Other’s Cigar Tastes

Like with whiskey, books, music, or cars, cigar preference is all about personal taste. What one person enjoys, another might not be so keen on. When picking a cigar, it’s about tailoring it to our likes and dislikes. And that’s the key—no need to criticize someone else’s smoke if it’s not to our taste. Giving unsolicited opinions on their choice is simply impolite.

The heart of cigar-smoking camaraderie lies in respecting each other’s choices. So, let’s celebrate the variety of cigar preferences and share our passion without any judgmental talk. 

Non-Negotiable Cigar Etiquettes

Below are a few rules considered ‘standard’ and the norm when smoking cigars—steer clear of these pitfalls. You’ll always be welcome to light up and smoke at the lounge the next poker night or watch the big game with friends and family. 

Don’t Bring Your Own Cigars to the Lounge

In the same spirit as it would be deemed unacceptable to go to a bar and indulge in swigs from a hidden flask in your pocket or to visit a restaurant and whip out a box of homecooked food; the cigars enjoyed in a cigar lounge should ideally be ones purchased from the establishment itself. Bringing in cigars from a rival shop is considered inappropriate in this setting.

Let’s respect the connection between the lounge and its offerings and enjoy the cigars available in the place that graciously welcomes us. It’s all about supporting the lounge and embracing the experience it provides! However, always ensure you have your own cigars when visiting friends or family. Lighting and smoking cigarettes are technically allowed; rather avoid it.

Asking To Try Someone’s Cigar Is a No-Go

Each cigar is a personal journey, meant to be savored from start to finish by the individual who lit it up. So, it’s a big ‘no’ to asking for a puff from someone else’s cigar. If you’re intrigued by their choice, invite them to share their thoughts on the taste or ask a helpful shop assistant about that specific cigar. If it piques your interest, buy one to experience the pleasure firsthand. It’s all about respecting the personal nature of cigars and enjoying the journey with your cigar! 

Avoid Grinding or Smashing It Out in the Ashtray

When you enjoy your cigar, let it burn out gracefully. Cigars have a distinct and stale aroma when mashed or twisted like a cigarette butt into the ashtray. We want to avoid that. The good news is that handmade cigars are humidified and will naturally burn out in a few minutes. Just let them be, and they’ll gracefully fade away.  

And here’s an important reminder—always ensure your cigar is fully extinguished before you leave. Safety first! Let’s enjoy our cigars with respect and proper etiquette, providing a pleasant experience for everyone. 

Never Lick The Cigar

Some individuals have an interesting habit of treating their cigars as if they were popsicles. Occasionally, you’ll see a connoisseur licking the length of the cigar or even popping the entire cigar into their mouth like a banana. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a cold draw from the cigar after cutting it. This allows you to experience the cigar’s flavor without sucking on it like a popsicle. But please, never lick your cigars!

Don’t Make Mouth or Nose Contact With Your Cigar

When choosing a cigar at a shop, refrain from sticking it up your nose — that’s inconsiderate of others if you put it back down. You can catch the aroma from the foot of a cigar by placing it half an inch from your nose. Additionally, avoid using another’s cigar cutters if the cap has been in your mouth — this is akin to the cigar foot up your nose situation. It’s simply a matter of sanitation. Don’t wet or lick the cap of a cigar before cutting, especially if you’re using a communal cutter or borrowing from a friend. Keeping the cap dry ensures a more sanitary experience for everyone involved. 

And here’s an important tip: if you’ve already had your cigar in your mouth, avoid asking to borrow a friend’s cigar cutter. It’s better to borrow a cutter before placing your cigar in your mouth to maintain proper hygiene and courtesy

Closing Thoughts 

Becoming a true cigar aficionado is not about snobbery or elitism; it’s about embracing a rich and storied tradition while respecting the craftsmanship of making each cigar. Following proper cigar etiquette enhances your enjoyment and contributes to the communal experience of cigar smoking. So, take the time to learn, explore, and share your passion for cigars with fellow enthusiasts. Cheers to a lifetime of camaraderie and appreciation for the world of cigars! Happy smoking! 

Andrew Olsen, a Musicology Ph.D., explores the intersections of art, literature, and music. Beyond academics, he's a cigar aficionado who revels in experimenting with pipe tobacco blends and collecting vintage and new pipes. Other pursuits include reading about cigars and tobacco pipes, blends, and (of course) writing about it.

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