Cigar 101 How to Smoke a Cigar in Style

How to Smoke a Cigar

Cigar smoking is undeniably cool.  It may have its roots in tradition, but it’s hardly old-fashioned—plenty of modern celebrities enjoy lighting up a stogie as well.  But do you know what isn’t cool?  Doing it all wrong.  Cigar smoking is a great pastime which can contribute style, sophistication and pleasure to your lifestyle, but if you screw up with your first one you could come off with totally the wrong impression; picking a wrong cigar will compromise your ideas of quality, and trying to get a cigar open without equipment is just begging for failure.  And then when you make the mistake of inhaling … well, you’ll probably get sick and decide that cigars are a sickening habit—instead of realizing that a bit of research about cigars will help before trying one.

In this “Cigars 101 – How to Smoke a Cigar” article, I’d like to share some advice with novice smokers. You’ll learn how to select a good beginner’s cigar and basic equipment.  We’ll introduce you to the different parts of a cigar, tell you how to light your cigar and how to smoke it for a quality first experience.

Buying Your First Cigar

You may think that buying a cigar is only an impulse buy, but those cigars you see next to cash registers in bins are no good.  Cigars need to be maintained at the proper temperature and humidity, which is why tobacconists who know what they’re doing keep them in humidors.  Buy your first cigar at a local tobacconist; you’ll get a higher quality product and probably some good advice, too.  Don’t go for a full strength cigar—you won’t be able to handle it on your first try.  Something mild or medium-bodied would be best so you’re not overwhelmed.

Cigar Anatomy

Cigar Wrapper, Binder & Filler by Gary Manelski

Cigar Wrapper, Binder & Filler by Gary ManelskiLighting a Cigar Phase 1

The body of a cigar has three basic parts: a wrapper, a binder and a filler.  The wrapper is the outermost leaf which holds together the binder and filler.  The binder goes just inside the wrapper and contains the filler—most uneven burns are due to problematic binder leaves.  The filler comprises most of the cigar’s contents; filler leaves are the innermost component of the cigar.

Your cigar will also have a cap – it covers the head, which is the part you put in your mouth.  The foot is the part which you light.  Finally, the label around the cigar is called the band; you might want to remove it if it’s possible without damaging the cigar.

Cutting a Cigar

Cutting a Cigar

Cutting a Cigar

You should invest in a cigar cutter before your first cigar.  Start out with a single/double “noname” guillotine cutter, which is inexpensive and will get the job done.  Cutting is an act requiring moderation; you need to cut off enough that you get a good craw, but not too much or your cigar will just fall apart on you.  With a guillotine cutter, you may place the cutter on a table and place your cigar vertically in the cutter.  This will give you the right positioning to make the best cut automatically in most cases.

Lighting a Cigar

Lighting a Cigar Phase 1

Lighting a Cigar Phase 1

First of all, the equipment. Don’t use a regular cigarette lighter or a Zippo (unless it’s equipped with a Z-plus insert) – the fluid will affect the flavors. This leaves us with either wooden matches or butane torch lighters. I usually go with the second option. You’re probably thinking you’ll look pretty smooth if you light the cigar while it’s in your mouth.  In reality you’ll probably make your cigar too hot.  Hold the cigar away from you so you can see what you’re doing and light it carefully and evenly.

How to Light a Cigar Phase 2

How to Light a Cigar Phase 2

Smoking a Cigar

Do not inhale.  This cannot be said enough.  If you inhale the smoke, you will be overwhelmed.  No one inhales cigar smoke.  Don’t smoke it too fast, either—it’s designed to burn slowly so you can really unwind and enjoy yourself.  If you smoke too quickly the cigar will burn too hot, but make sure not to smoke too slowly either – they will burn out.
And when you’re done, please, don’t crush your cigar in the ashtray like a vulgar cigarette. Simply put it aside and it’ll go out itself.

Cigar Lighting Phase 3

Cigar Lighting Phase 3


Update:Former tobacconist Stogie110 elaborated further on how to smoke a cigar:

  1. Your tobacconist is your best friend. Let him/her know how often you smoke, and how much you want to spend. With cigars as cheap as US$4.00 and as expensive as $30.00, you need to tell them what your needs are.
  2. When lighting with a torch-style lighter, don’t just jam flame to foot. Hold the lighter far away from the foot and slowly bring it it, rotating as you go.
  3. As a first time smoker, don’t smoke on a windy day. You won’t enjoy the full flavor of the cigar, and it will get too hot (think about blowing on a campfire to get it hotter).
  4. Have something with you to drink. It doesn’t need to be alcoholic. Water, a soda, or whatever your preference, it will help as a first time smoker to cleanse the palate. Cigars, although delicious and a wonderful treat, do contain tar and other things that make drinking beverages a must.

How to Smoke A Cigar Video

In this video you see Edward Sahakian from Davidoff London explaining all the steps above teaching how to smoke a cigar.


 It’s probably going to take you a few cigars to feel comfortable smoking, but it’s worth it—and if you avoid a few key missteps, as mentioned above, you’ll hopefully derive enough enjoyment from the experience to continue smoking. There are many great premium cigars designed for all budgets which make great smokes for beginners.  Get to know the cigar community, too—there are some great people out there who will introduce you to new cigars, help you learn the technique, and enhance your life in many other ways.  Good luck and enjoy your first cigar!

How do you smoke your cigar?

How to Smoke a Cigar
Article Name
How to Smoke a Cigar
Learn how to choose, cut and smoke a cigar like an aficionado, to derive the utmost enjoyment. Including video instruction.
Gentleman's Gazette
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5 replies
  1. Ken says:

    I love cigars… but they are time consuming, if you truly want to enjoy the experience, flavor and abmbience that comes with cigars. What we need in this world are cigar lounges… anybody know of any… anywhere?

  2. Stogies110 says:

    As a former tobacconist (11 years in the business) I think there are a few good points that were left out of this article:
    please see above in the article.

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