Enjoying a cigar is a gentleman's way of life.
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How To Smoke A Cigar: Please Don’t Inhale Damn It!

Life is an interesting ride, to say the least. After the days roll by, you may look back and wonder why you didn’t just revel in the moment more often. Just take time and sit to enjoy some of life’s pleasures right at your fingertips. We may often see these pleasures as a detriment to our existence or overall health. And while I would never advocate for people to do super unhealthy things, the fact is that none of us get out alive. A perfect example of this is the cigar. 

To the fun police, it is smoking and thus should be banned. To those that raise their middle finger to these people, it is an enjoyable experience that embodies cool, legacy, and pleasure. In short, cigars are delightful and a very different creature in the smoking world. I know many people are cigar curious and want to try it. What I also know is that the process of smoking a cigar can seem almost technically ritualistic and hard to understand. Well, my friends, have a seat here with me and let’s take a moment to learn how to smoke a cigar.

Preparing Your Cigar For Enjoyment

          While I could spend a few thousand words on picking your cigar, let’s assume that you have sought guidance and have your chosen stick in hand. Now it is time to get set to smoke it. The first thing we need to do is cut the cigar. While it has been a thing in some movies, do not bite the end of the cigar off. It will make for a terrible edge and could ruin the experience.

There are a variety of cutters on the market, but I prefer a guillotine cutter. It is easy to use and maintain. Pick up your cigar cutter between your thumb and forefinger using your dominant hand. Open the blades and place the cigar into the cutter. Line it up so you’re cutting right above the shoulder of the cigar. Remember that it’s better to cut too little than too much. When you are ready and in position, make a firm swift cut. This will give us a clean edge and avoid loose debris.

Learn how to smoke a cigar the right way!
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Correctly Lighting Your Cigar

          Now we need to introduce flame. Lighting a cigar is very different than lighting a cigarette. It is more controlled and requires patience. We are working to evenly light all the cigar components to get the best experience. The tool you use to introduce fire is essential. Avoid lighting a cigar with a flame from a source that will affect the flavor. Things like Zippo and oil-fueled lighters, and standard sulfur matches should be avoided. These lighting implements can add odd flavors to your smoke. I suggest using a butane-based torch.

Once we have our fire going, we now move it to the cigar. Light your cigar the same way you would toast a marshmallow over a campfire. Keep the cigar above and near the flame, but don’t let them touch. Rotate the cigar near the flame to heat all the parts of the tip. This can take a moment but keep going until there’s a glowing ring all the way around the cigar’s tip and the edges are thinly blackened. Now we can start to draw on the cigar and finish the lighting process. Move the cigar to your mouth while keeping the lighter at the same distance from the tip. Take a puff and check the end of the cigar. It should have an even burning ember. If it’s not quite there, go back to the lighting process until it is even.

Enjoying a quality cigar at the end of the day.
(Photo by iStock Photo)

I Promise I Did Not Inhale

          Once it is burning well, we now get to smoke and enjoy it. Now, it is essential to understand that smoking cigars is very different than cigarettes. In short, you do not inhale cigar smoke. It is uncomfortable and not necessary. Unlike cigarettes, we absorb nicotine from a cigar within the mucus membranes of the mouth, not the lungs. The first thing to do is to put the cigar in your mouth and gently blow out the accumulated smoke inside of it. This will get rid of any bitterness. Now gently draw the smoke into your palate and absorb its flavor for a moment before releasing it from your mouth. Draw on it like you are sucking through a straw to get an even flow. Repeat several times until your cigar starts producing thick white smoke.

From this point on, you are on cruise control. Slow your puffs and simply enjoy the experience. To keep it going, puff every minute or so. There’s no rule that says you have to smoke the whole thing at one time. Cigars can be paused and relit later on, but don’t sit them down and come back days later. They will lose their magic at that point. One quick side note is not to tap off the ash like you would with a cigarette. It is ok to leave it there for a while, and big ash is a sign of a quality cigar. Try not to let it get longer than an inch or so, and when you ash it, don’t tap it off as you would with a cigarette. Instead, gently roll it on the ashtray until it breaks off.

          Smoking a cigar should be an elegant, relaxing event. Take time out of your busy life to give it a try. Smoking a quality cigar is simply one of the finest moments in life. Enjoy it.

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