Planning When and Where to Enjoy Your First Cigar

Smoking your first cigar should be a memorable moment to cherish, even if it’s a singular, special occasion and nothing more. For this reason, the company you keep when you smoke your first cigar will make a significant difference. You don't want to smoke around children or be chased out of a serene setting by a No Smoking sign or a nagging acquaintance.

Thinking about when and where you want to cherish your first cigar is almost as important as having matches to light it. A pool hall, a finished basement, a cozy attic, a comfortable porch, or a private rooftop with a panoramic view are all nice places to enjoy a cigar. 

Deciding when you want to smoke may be a matter of convenience. You will want to enjoy it when no one is around or with a good friend who approves of you smoking a cigar, someone who may enjoy one as well. You don't want to be scolded, harassed, or put into a defensive mood by less-accepting individuals with odor and secondhand smoke diatribes.

How to Select a Cigar

Choosing the best cigar is a complex task because there are so many different kinds of cigars on the market and not enough time in the world to explain why one is better than another. We've all heard about how fantastic Cuban cigars are, but they are illegal to import into the U.S. unless you are bringing a few back from a vacation there.

Nevertheless, the quality of many cigars produced from tobacco grown in Central America and the Caribbean islands are thought to be on par with Cuban cigars because of the higher quality of tobacco and experience of traditional processes.

Aside from the origins and unique tobacco, cigars come in all different shapes and sizes. The majority are Parejos, which feature a precision-rolled cylindrical shape and a rounded cap at the end. Figurados sort of resemble footballs and are preferred by many because they burn slower in the middle and create a veritable sweet spot that extends the climax of the experience. In general, beginners may be overcome by a potent cigar and may succumb to the symptoms of nicotine toxicity. They may experience a headache, nausea, and anxiety instead of relaxation and pleasure.

For this reason, it is advisable for a new smoker to purchase a mild cigar with a lighter wrap. A lighter wrap on a cigar generally signifies a subtle floral or citrus flavor, maybe with a touch of cream. A darker cigar wrap may have a woody, nutty flavor that is earthy and reminiscent of coffee, chocolate, or leather.

Eating a good meal before smoking a cigar seems to increase tolerance and may help you enjoy your after-meal cigar as if it were a crème brûlée or flambé dessert tray.

Distinguishing between mass-produced cigars and hand-rolled varieties is a question of budget and availability. A hand-rolled cigar will generally have more character and an exotic blend of tobacco.

A hand-rolled cigar will be memorable and mark an occasion better. However, a machine-rolled cigar is cheaper and will offer consistency and guarantee the same experience ten years from now.

You can find imported, machine-rolled cigars that are just as interesting as the hand-rolled variety. Imported cigars may have clove mixed in or other special herbal blends that make them more interesting on the palette than common varieties.

A cigarillo is somewhere in between a cigar and a cigarette. It is typically larger than a cigarette and is often rolled in a tobacco leaf instead of paper.

These provide more of the organic feel found in a hand-rolled cigar but come in a smaller size that is easier to smoke. In general, new cigar smokers should choose a smaller cigar because they don't have as much tolerance as an experienced smoker.

Buy a Cigar-Smoker Kit: Cutter, Matches, Humidor, Ashtray

Before you start smoking your first cigar, you will need a cigar kit to prepare. An ashtray is mandatory because cigars produce larger ashes than cigarettes, and you don't want the embers to fall somewhere and start a fire. An ashtray is also necessary because you need somewhere safe to hold your cigar between puffs.

Matches will offer a better taste than the traditional butane or wick lighters. Experienced cigar aficionados are sensitive to the chemical odors that may taint cigars if they are lit with a lighter.

Whether you opt for blue-tip kitchen matches with a sweet wooden taste or a traditional pack of phosphorus- or sulfur-tipped matches, you will appreciate your cigar more without the petroleum aftertaste.

Most cigars come sealed at the end where you smoke them. An aggressive smoker may just bite off the tip and chew on the cigar instead of buying a cigar cutter.

A more distinguished smoker will carefully cut the tip off without loosening the tobacco by using a cigar cutter or punch-cutter tool to put a neat, little hole in the end. Whatever you decide, consider the setting and your company before biting into the cigar and getting tobacco all over your teeth.

A humidor is simply a box for you to store your cigars in where they are kept humid and fresh. There is nothing worse than the harsh burn of a stale cigar on the back of your throat or a perfectly good cigar dried up and cracked.

A cigar should have a bit of sponginess to it when it has an ideal level of humidity. The humidity also allows it to burn smoother instead of running down one side or burning up too quickly.

How to Light Your Cigar

When you light your cigar, you want to make sure that it is evenly lit by taking a few puffs while you distribute the flame gingerly around the end. You can always use a bit of saliva or liquid from a drink on your fingertip to cool down any runs in the cigar if it burns unevenly down one side. However, this is more commonly a problem with dry cigars or hand-rolled cigarettes.

How to Draw in the Smoke

Cigars last longer than a cigarette. You may be able to stretch a cigarette for 10 minutes or more. A cigar, by contrast, will usually burn for an hour or more. For this reason, you don't inhale a cigar. You just want to let the aroma fill your nose while you puff on the thick smoke and taste it in your mouth.

Blow some rings by opening your mouth and centering your tongue to force the smoke out in ring shapes. The smoke will waft up and create a haze that can sting your eyes like a campfire until you get used to it. Taking a few puffs off the cigar and putting it down into an ashtray to settle while you enjoy the nicotine buzz is the recommended course.

The intensity of a cigar will creep up on you and can be overwhelming. For this reason, new smokers should take it slow. Drawing too hard through a cigar can make it overheat and burn your fingers and mouth.

How to Tap the Ash

Cigars produce much thicker ashes than cigarettes. You don't want to knock the ashes off too hard because the large cherry can fall off or cause it to burn unevenly. Gently tapping the excess ash off before you lift it from the tray to take another puff is sufficient.

Mind you, you'll have to maintain the delicate balance of sustaining an even burn without letting the ash build up so much that it falls on you. Allowing some ashes to build up is good because it reduces the airflow and allows the cigar to cool down and burn slower.

When to Be Done with the Cigar

Once the cigar heats up, you can remove the cigar band. If you don't allow the cigar to heat up, it could damage the tobacco leaf when you remove the cigar band prematurely. However, some smokers will only smoke a cigar down to the band because they believe the taste becomes overly pungent as the resins and soot build up.

There are even people who collect rare cigar bands. If cigar smoking becomes your new hobby, collecting imported cigar bands may become a valuable aspect of it.

Other cigar smokers find smoking just half of a cigar to be wasteful and will simply smoke one until it no longer tastes good. Cigars all have different levels of resins and aromas that can affect how good they taste as they burn down. A three-finger rule is probably a good rule of thumb if you are indecisive.

In any case, you should never relight a cigar that has been extinguished for several hours. All the undesirable tars and burnt embers will ruin the taste as they settle. It will be something like eating burnt popcorn if making a vague comparison is allowable.

How to Properly Extinguish a Cigar

You should never put a cigar out by crushing the cherry in an ashtray as you may with a cigarette. Cigars are too pungent and will release lingering odors if you extinguish them in this manner. Instead, let the cigar self-extinguish in an ashtray. If you don't puff on a cigar every so often, it will burn itself out.

If you have to extinguish a cigar in a hurry, it is better to drown it in water. The water will ensure that it is fully extinguished and encapsulate the odors at the same time. Never extinguish a cigar in an alcoholic beverage because it could ignite.

In any case, never smoke when you are tired or sedated. You don't want to burn down your house. And because ashtrays can be knocked over by pets or other accidents, be sure that your ashtray is somewhere that won't start a fire even if it were to fall over.

How to Reduce the Odor

The pungent smell of cigars can offend the delicate noses of nonsmokers. If you enjoy an occasional cigar, you may want to work on a post-smoker routine to reduce the aversion that pungent smells can evoke.

In many cases, you can simply take a shower and put on some fresh clothes. Mouthwash or spearmint gum can then be used to clean the inside of your mouth. If the smell is lingering where you smoked the cigar, you can try burning incense to cover it up. Incense will blend with the smokiness of the cigar while releasing aromatic odors that are pleasant to the senses.

You can even make your own incense by combining cinnamon and other aromatic herbs with water and forming a dough into cones or coating thin sticks.

Opening your windows and removing any ashtrays will also help to dissipate the odors. Preferably, you will want to smoke out of an open window or outside if your cohabitants are sensitive to the odor. This will also prevent the odor from being absorbed into carpets and furniture.


Smoking your first cigar is a significant experience! Be sure to use proper etiquette and put some thought into your first cigar to maximize the event. Most importantly, enjoy yourself!

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