A complete guide to cigar smoking etiquette

A cigar is the most sumptuous cigarette option. An exquisitely rolled stogie has acquired the kind of prestige usually reserved for things like expensive wine and truffles over the years. Indeed, the best of the bunch share the same nuance and unique background that we look for in high-quality wine.

But that doesn't mean it's the simplest pastime to jump into. Cigars, like fine wine, sailing, and preparing lobster, can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated. Cigar in hand, we're here to put an end to that feeling and set you on the right path.

how to smoke a cigar. Photograph by Genevieve Poblano for The Manual

E-cigarettes, CBG joints, and every other type of inhalant imaginable have flooded the market. Despite this, cigars have continued to thrive, thanks to their reliance on unique tobaccos and blends that provide smokers with a satisfying sensory experience without the intoxicating effects of other tobacco products. We recognize the health concerns, but flavor and presentation are what really matter. A well-rolled cigar in the hands of an experienced smoker exudes seductiveness.

Choosing the Right Cigar

Check out our detailed guide to cigar varieties before you get started. You'll learn about the various cigar varieties and get a sense of the ones you're most likely to enjoy from this guide. The guide also helps you understand the distinction between mild, medium, and bold cigars on a fundamental level.

Finding the perfect cigar is similar to finding the perfect piece of produce. It should be flawless and have good integrity in most cases. Your local cigar shop clerk may be the best resource to consult first. There, not only can you get a quick lesson if you need it, but you can also usually take a few samples out of the case to try for yourself. The best way to find out what kind of cigars you like is to try a variety of them. Here are the most common kinds:

how to smoke a cigar.

  • How to Choose the Right Strength of Cigar
  • Advice on Storing Cigars in Humidors
  • Premium Tobacco Products


The Robusto is the workhorse of cigars; it's widely available and has a reputation for producing a lot of smoke while burning for 30–45 minutes. For some time now, this cigar has dominated the industry.


The Belicoso is typically shorter and more tapered than other cigars, with a pointed tip that is set up in the shape of a spire. This cigar is easily recognizable thanks to its torpedo shape, and it also boasts a higher concentration of flavor and aroma than other types of cigars.


The Corona is another classic cigar shape, and it is one of the most popular because of its mild flavor, moderate strength, and manageable length (up to about six inches).


Given its longer nature, it's not surprising that the Lonsdale has a longer burn time. The Lonsdale has a very elegant draw, or the process of inhaling smoke from the cigar as it burns.


The Panetela is long and slender, exuding an obvious air of sophistication. Cigars with a narrower diameter have a more concentrated wrapper leaf flavor without sacrificing the tobacco's inherent complexity.


The Churchill, named after the cigar-loving statesman, is a massive and authoritative cigar. Like the man himself, the most famous of his works is the Romeo y Julieta, which is rich and blunt.

A Cigar Cutter's Guide

There is no reason to cut a cigar without a clipper unless you're in a bind or out in the wilderness. The result will be an uneven, frayed surface from which you will have to draw. To get the most out of your smoke, you should remove it as quickly and directly as possible, like ripping off a Band-aid. If you want to get the most out of your surface, a quick cut is your best bet.

how to smoke a cigar. Manual/Genevieve Poblano

Always make sure your cutter is clean before using it. Putting it in hot water for a while (about an hour), scrubbing it a little, and drying it with a towel will do the trick. You can deburr the cutter if you find yourself in a jam with worn blades. Create a cigar-sized cylinder out of the aluminum foil. Create a series of cuts in the foil, each half an inch apart. Use the foil to hone your cigar cutters for a cleaner cut on your next smoke.

The Proper Method of Cigar Ignition

There are many methods for starting a fire, but what we need is a steady flame that won't scorch the cigar or alter its natural flavors. Rather than using a matchbook or a regular lighter, a torch lighter is the most effective and convenient option.

how to smoke a cigar. Portrait of Genevieve Poblano from The Manual by

To prime a cigar, hold it over a flame. The end should emit a nice, uniform orange glow, so give it a spin to burn it evenly. When that happens, you know it's game time. This is the point at which the cigar can be smoked. Don't be discouraged if you char your first attempt or make an uneven surface; practice makes perfect. You'll get the hang of it like you'd get the hang of roasting a marshmallow once you've experimented with the strength of your torch and the way different cigars react to it.

Cigar etiquette

To begin, a cigar is not something to be inhaled. It's not good for your health, especially your lungs and overall body. The secret is in the puff, just like with that first, subtle hit of weed you experienced as a teenager or when you unknowingly sucked air through a straw. Imagine the smoke as something you contemplate, perhaps even chew on, rather than something you swallow. Take a deep breath in and out through your nose and mouth. Do this at least four or five times (or more) to get a good cloud of white smoke from your cigar.

how to smoke a cigar. Photograph by Genevieve Poblano for The Manual

The cigar should be flying on autopilot at this point. Take it easy on the inhale and take pleasure in the aroma and the weight of the item in your hand. Take a puff every minute or so to keep it going. It's best to view cigar smoking as a marathon rather than a sprint due to the activity's potential intensity. Trying to out-smoke your friend will only make you feel sick. Additionally, there is no hard and fast rule requiring you to smoke the entire thing. It's fine to put out a cigar and relight it later, but you should do so within two hours because cigars are also somewhat perishable.

Methods, customs, and norms

It's up to you if you want to remove the cigar's label. Some dudes like to do it right away, while others like to keep it on the whole time they're puffing away. Though it's ultimately up to you, we recommend leaving it on for at least a few minutes before removing it. The cigar's heat will soften the glue, making it easier to remove the wrapper without damaging the cigar.

how to smoke a cigar. Manual/Genevieve Poblano

A head of ash will form on the tip of your cigar as you smoke it. This is not like a cigarette in that you have to put it out by tapping it. You can safely leave it for the time being. An excellent cigar will produce a large ash, but you shouldn't let it get too long. If there is too much ash at the tip, the tobacco will burn unevenly and lose some of its flavor. Keep it to an inch or so at most, and when you're ready to ash it, roll it gently on the ashtray until it breaks off rather than tapping it off like you would with a cigarette.

A cigar and a glass of scotch is a classic combination.

It's understandable to want to relax with a cigar. On the other hand, there are times when a strong beverage would go well with a cigarette. If that's the case, whiskey might be the first alcoholic beverage that comes to mind, and we have a comprehensive guide to help you select the best whiskey to pair with your cigar of choice.

There is, of course, no rule that says you have to drink whiskey with your cigar; the point is to find combinations that you enjoy. Don't worry too much about whether or not your cigar and booze pairing makes sense to anyone else; just find something that works for you and go with it.

When it comes to poker night, cigars are an essential accessory.

Assuming you have booze and cigars on hand, hosting a poker night is the next logical step. Consider the tastes of those in your social circle to help you decide on a wide range of alcoholic beverages and cigars. Each person has their own unique preference when it comes to cigars.

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