10 Steps To Smoking Cigars Like A Gentleman In 2024


Stepping into the world of cigar smoking is a foray into a realm of sophistication and tradition, and mastering how to smoke a cigar is a quintessential part of this journey.

This guide is an invitation to immerse yourself in a ritual that symbolizes refinement and discernment. Whether you’re lighting your first cigar or seeking to deepen your appreciation, our expert insights are tailored to elevate your experience.

Keep reading to navigate the rich, aromatic path of how to smoke cigars, where each draw is a blend of style, tradition, and pleasure.

man holding an italian cigar
thecigarguys / Instagram

1. Understanding the Cigar

Before learning how to smoke a cigar, it’s crucial to understand what makes a good cigar. Cigars are categorized by their size and shape, known as vitola, and the type of tobacco used, which influences the flavor profile. The three main components of a cigar are:

  • The Wrapper: The outermost layer, visible to the eye, which contributes significantly to the cigar’s overall flavor and character.
  • The Binder: A leaf that holds the filler in place and helps the cigar burn evenly.
  • The Filler: A blend of tobacco leaves that constitutes the core of the cigar and defines its strength and flavor.

2. Choosing the Right Cigar

Selecting the right cigar is a fundamental step in understanding how to smoke cigars. Beginners may start with milder cigars, gradually moving to fuller-bodied varieties. Consider the occasion, the time you have to enjoy the cigar, and your flavor preferences. When purchasing, ensure the cigars are well-maintained, looking for a smooth wrapper with no cracks or dry spots.

Selecting the right cigar is akin to choosing a fine wine. It’s a personal journey that evolves over time. Here are some additional considerations:

Size and Shape

Cigars come in various sizes and shapes, commonly referred to as vitolas. Robustos, Panatelas, and Churchills are just a few examples. The size of a cigar is measured by its length and ring gauge (diameter). A larger cigar doesn’t necessarily mean a stronger flavor; it often means a longer smoking time.

Flavor Profile

Cigars range from mild to full-bodied. Mild cigars are ideal for beginners or for those who prefer a subtler taste. Medium-bodied cigars offer more complexity and are great for those who have developed their palate. Full-bodied cigars are rich and flavorful, often preferred by experienced smokers.

Origin of Tobacco

The country of origin of the tobacco leaves can greatly influence the flavor of the cigar. For instance, Cuban cigars are renowned for their richness and complexity, while Dominican cigars are often milder and smoother.

Hand-Rolled vs. Machine-Rolled

Hand-rolled cigars are typically of higher quality, as they are crafted with greater care and attention to detail. Machine-rolled cigars can be more uniform but might lack the nuanced flavors of their hand-rolled counterparts.

smoking essentials for a cigar
theunshackledmindset / Instagram

3. Cutting the Cigar

The cut of the cigar is crucial for proper airflow and an enjoyable smoking experience. Use a quality cigar cutter, and aim to make a clean cut about 1/16 to 1/8 inch from the cap (the top of the cigar). Avoid cutting too deep, as this can cause the cigar to unravel.

Here are some additional tips:

Types of Cuts

The straight cut is the most common, but there are others like the V-cut and the punch cut. The V-cut creates a wedge in the cigar, which some believe enhances the flavor. The punch cut bores a small hole in the cap, concentrating the smoke and making for a stronger taste.

Quality of Cutter

Invest in a high-quality cutter. Cheap cutters can damage the cigar, leading to an uneven burn and a less enjoyable experience. A sharp, well-made cutter ensures a clean cut every time.

Colibri V-Cut Cigar Cutter

Cutting Technique

When cutting, do it swiftly and confidently. Hesitation can lead to a jagged cut. Place the cutter on a flat surface for stability, insert the cigar, and snip it in one fluid motion.

man lighting up a cigar
dutchcigars / Instagram

4. Lighting the Cigar

The lighting process is an art in itself and a key step in how to smoke a cigar. Use a butane lighter or wooden matches, avoiding petrol lighters or candles as they can alter the cigar’s flavor. Toast the foot (the open end) of the cigar by holding it above the flame, not directly in it. Rotate the cigar, ensuring an even toast. Then, put the cigar in your mouth, draw in gently, and continue rotating it above the flame until it’s evenly lit.

5. Smoking the Cigar

Once lit, smoke the cigar leisurely. Unlike cigarettes, cigars are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs. The nicotine content in a cigar is higher than that in a cigarette, so inhaling cigar smoke can cause unpleasant sensations like nausea and dizziness.  Instead, draw the smoke into your mouth, savor the flavors, and then exhale. A good cigar should provide a smooth, easy draw. If you find yourself having to pull hard, the cigar may be rolled too tightly.

6. Ash and Burn

Allow the ash to build up to about an inch before gently tapping it off. A long ash is a sign of a well-constructed cigar. However, don’t let it get too long, as it can affect the burn. Ideally, your cigar should burn evenly around its circumference. If it starts to burn unevenly, you can gently blow on the unburnt side or use a lighter to correct it.

man having a drink and a cigar
thecigarguy / Instagram

7. Enjoying the Experience

How to smoke a cigar is as much about the experience as it is about the taste. It’s a moment to relax, reflect, or engage in conversation. Pair your cigar with a suitable drink – classic choices include whiskey, rum, or coffee – and take the time to appreciate the nuances of both.

8. Concluding Your Smoke

A cigar is finished when you feel it’s finished. There’s no need to smoke it down to the nub if you’re not enjoying it. When you’re done, simply lay the cigar in the ashtray and let it extinguish on its own. Crushing or stubbing out a cigar can release unpleasant odors.

9. Cigar Etiquette

Remember, cigar smoking is also about respect – for the cigar, the environment, and those around you. Always smoke in designated areas and be mindful of non-smokers. Sharing cigars can be a part of the experience, but always offer a fresh cigar rather than one you’ve already smoked.

a travel humidor with four cigars inside
humidorcigarco / Instagram

10. Storing Your Cigars

Proper storage is key to preserving your cigars. A humidor, which maintains a constant humidity level, is ideal. If you don’t have a humidor, store your cigars in a cool, humid-free environment, and plan to smoke them within a few days of purchase.

Cigar storage is essential for maintaining the quality of your cigars. Here’s more on how to store them effectively.


A humidor is a controlled environment where your cigars can thrive. The ideal humidity level for a humidor is between 68% and 72%. This level keeps the cigars from drying out or becoming too moist, which can affect the burn and flavor.

CASE ELEGANCE Glass Top Humidor

Seasoning Your Humidor

Before storing cigars, the humidor must be seasoned. This process involves raising the humidity level of the wood inside, preventing it from drawing moisture from the cigars. Wipe the interior with a damp cloth and use a calibrated hygrometer to monitor the humidity.


Rotate the cigars in your humidor periodically. This ensures that all cigars are exposed to an even level of humidity, especially if your humidor is large.

Travel and Temporary Storage

For short-term storage or travel, consider a travel humidor or a cigar case. These are smaller, portable versions of traditional humidors and are perfect for keeping your cigars in optimal condition on the go.

AMANCY Leather Cigar Case

Tips for How to Smoke Cigars

How to smoke a cigar is an art, and like any art, it comes with its nuances and best practices. Here are some tips to enhance your cigar smoking experience.

Take Your Time

Cigar smoking should never be rushed. It’s a leisurely activity meant for relaxation and enjoyment. A typical cigar can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour to smoke. Savor each puff and give the cigar time to express its flavors.

Experiment with Pairings

Just like wine, cigars can be paired with various beverages to enhance the experience. Coffee, dark spirits like whiskey or rum, and even some wines can complement different cigar flavors. Experiment to find pairings that suit your palate.

Keep the Band On… Initially

It’s a matter of personal preference, but generally, it’s advisable to keep the band on the cigar for the first few minutes of smoking. This prevents the risk of tearing the wrapper. Once the cigar warms up, the band can usually be removed more easily if desired.

Avoid Relighting a Stale Cigar

If your cigar goes out and it’s been less than an hour, it’s usually fine to relight it. However, if it’s been longer, it’s better to start with a fresh cigar. A stale cigar can have an unpleasant taste.

Learn to ‘Retrohale’

For a more intense flavor experience, seasoned cigar smokers use a technique called ‘retrohaling,’ where you gently push the smoke out through your nose. This allows you to pick up more complex flavors since your sense of smell is closely linked to taste.

Cleanse Your Palate

Between puffs, it can be beneficial to cleanse your palate. Water is excellent for this, but some prefer sparkling water or a mild beverage that doesn’t overpower the cigar’s flavor.

Educate Yourself

The world of cigars is vast and varied. Take time to learn about different types of cigars, their origins, and their flavor profiles. This knowledge will not only enhance your enjoyment but also make you a more discerning smoker.

a lit up cigar on a wooden ashtray
cigaraficionado / Instagram

Why You Should Trust Us

Jane Elmets, a distinguished voice in the lifestyle sector, brings a unique blend of professional insight and personal experience to FashionBeans. Her adept exploration of style, from mastering the art of accessorizing to building an enduring capsule wardrobe, showcases her commitment to practical elegance and quality. Jane’s guidance transcends mere trends, focusing on sustainable choices that enhance personal style and ensure longevity in one’s wardrobe. Her foray into the nuanced world of men’s colognes further exemplifies her holistic approach to lifestyle advice, offering readers a well-rounded perspective on creating a memorable presence. Trust in Jane’s expertise stems from her meticulous research and genuine passion for empowering readers through actionable advice, making her a trusted source for those seeking to refine their style and lifestyle choices.

Final Verdict

Embarking on the journey of cigar smoking is an exploration of taste, tradition, and personal style. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced smoker, the art of enjoying a cigar is a refined skill that complements a sophisticated lifestyle. Remember, each cigar is a story waiting to be told, and with the tips and insights provided, you’re well-equipped to savor every chapter. Happy smoking, and may each cigar bring a new dimension to your pursuit of elegance and pleasure.


    • To properly smoke a cigar, one should draw the smoke into the mouth, savor the flavors, and then exhale, without inhaling deeply into the lungs.

      • Beginners can enjoy cigars by starting with milder varieties and taking time to savor the flavors and aromas, ensuring a leisurely and relaxed experience.

        • Cigars can give you a buzz, primarily due to the nicotine content in the tobacco, which can vary depending on the type of cigar.

          • When smoking a cigar, you should not bite it; instead, cut the cap using a proper cigar cutter to ensure a clean opening for smoking.

            • While smoking, you should puff a cigar, drawing the smoke into your mouth to taste the flavors, but unlike cigarettes, you should not inhale the smoke into your lungs. Doing so can give you a headache and make you dizzy and nauseous, so just don’t do it.

              • To moisten a cigar before smoking, it’s best to store it in a humidor, which maintains the right humidity level. Directly moistening a cigar is not recommended as it can lead to uneven burning.

                • For beginners, a cigar with a milder flavor profile and a smaller size, such as a Robusto or a Corona, is often considered the best shape to start with.

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