Do You Inhale Cigars?

Man lighting a cigar, sitting in a cigar lounge

When it comes to enjoying a fine cigar, the experience is as rich in tradition as it is in flavor.

One common question among new aficionados and curious bystanders alike is, “Do you inhale a cigar?”

The simple answer is no, inhaling cigars is not recommended. Cigars are designed for a leisurely smoking experience where the focus is on the rich flavors and aromatic scent, rather than inhalation into the lungs. Hold the smoke in your mouth for a moment, then gently exhale it.

But there’s more to it than just that.

Unlike cigarettes, cigars are crafted to be savored. This introductory guide will explore why inhaling cigar smoke is not recommended, how to properly enjoy a cigar, and what makes this experience uniquely enjoyable.

So, whether you’re a seasoned smoker or new to the world of cigars, understanding the art of cigar smoking can enhance your appreciation of this age-old indulgence.

Introduction to Cigar Smoking

Cigar smoking is an esteemed tradition that dates back centuries, offering a sophisticated and contemplative experience that sets it apart from other forms of tobacco use.

A cigar is composed of tightly rolled tobacco leaves, which have been aged and fermented to bring out deep and varied flavors. Cigar wrappers carry much of the flavor.

Unlike cigarettes, cigars come in a range of shapes and sizes, each offering a unique smoking duration and intensity of flavor. This variety allows connoisseurs to select a cigar that perfectly matches their taste preferences and the occasion.

What truly distinguishes cigars is the method of enjoyment: smokers are meant to draw the smoke into their mouths to savor the complex flavors, but not to inhale it into their lungs. This practice highlights the rich, nuanced profiles of the tobacco and turns smoking into a more deliberate and pleasurable activity, rather than a quick nicotine fix.

Why You Should Not Inhale Cigar Smoke

When enjoying a premium cigar, it’s important to remember that the intended experience is markedly different from smoking a cigarette.

Cigars are crafted to deliver rich, complex flavors and aromas, which are best appreciated when the smoke is allowed to linger in the mouth, not inhaled into the lungs.

Inhaling bypasses much of the subtleties of a cigar’s flavor profile, which can only be fully perceived through the palette.

Moreover, due to the construction of cigars — which involves using whole tobacco leaves — the smoke is much denser and more intense than cigarette smoke. This intensity is designed for sensory enjoyment through taste and smell rather than through deep inhalation.

By not inhaling, you engage more directly with the craftsmanship of the cigar, experiencing the intended nuances and richness that the cigar maker has infused into the product.

This method not only respects the artistry behind cigar production but also enhances your personal enjoyment, allowing you to savor each moment of the smoking experience.

Slowing Down with a Great Cigar

In our fast-paced world, slowing down to enjoy a great cigar can offer a rare moment of solace and reflection.

Smoking a cigar is not merely about indulgence in tobacco; it’s a deliberate pause, a ritual that demands patience and mindfulness. Each puff encourages you to sit back and contemplate the intricate flavors released by the premium tobacco leaves.

As the smoke swirls and the layers of earthy, spicy, or sweet notes unfold, time seems to slow down, allowing for a deeper appreciation of the moment.

This unhurried experience can be a perfect counterbalance to the daily rush, providing a luxurious break to gather one’s thoughts, enjoy good company, or simply relax alone.

The ritual of choosing a cigar, cutting it, and lighting it up is as much a part of the enjoyment as the smoking itself, creating a mindful routine that highlights the artistry behind each cigar.

Embracing this practice not only enhances your appreciation of fine cigars but also enriches your ability to savor life’s quieter moments.

How to Properly Smoke a Cigar

Smoking a premium cigar is an art form, one that emphasizes relaxation and appreciation of flavor. For those new to cigars or looking to refine their technique, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to properly smoke a cigar, with a specific focus on enjoying the experience without inhaling the smoke:

  1. Choose Your Cigar: Select a cigar based on your personal taste preferences and the occasion. Consider the strength, from mild to full-bodied, which correlates with the intensity of flavor and nicotine content. Size and shape also affect the smoking time and intensity.
  2. Cutting the Cigar: Use a quality cutter to make a clean cut on the cap of the cigar. This allows for even airflow without damaging the structure of the cigar.
  3. Lighting the Cigar: Light your cigar with a butane lighter or a wooden match, avoiding petrol lighters which can alter the flavor. Toast the foot (the open end) of the cigar lightly before fully lighting it to ensure an even burn. Cigar Aficionado has a great step by step guide to lighting.
  4. Drawing Smoke: Gently draw smoke into your mouth without inhaling it into your lungs. Think of it as sipping the smoke, letting it swirl around your mouth to fully appreciate the richness and layers of flavor.
  5. Savor the Flavor: Allow the smoke to sit in your mouth for a few seconds. This exposes your palate and olfactory senses to the full experience of the cigar’s taste and aroma.
  6. Exhale Gently: Exhale the smoke slowly and enjoy the lingering flavors that each puff brings. The goal is to relax and take your time between puffs, allowing the cigar to burn slowly and evenly.
  7. Resting the Cigar: Between puffs, rest the cigar on an ashtray. This helps regulate the temperature and ensures the cigar does not burn too quickly, which can affect the flavor.

By following these steps, you can enjoy the full sensory experience of smoking a cigar without inhaling.

This method not only enhances the enjoyment of the cigar’s flavors but also respects the craft and tradition behind cigar making.

The Art of Savoring Cigar Smoke

The art of savoring cigar smoke is a refined practice that involves deeply engaging one’s senses to fully appreciate the intricate flavors and aromas that each cigar offers.

To truly experience the sensory pleasure of cigar smoking, start by selecting a cigar that aligns with your flavor preferences, whether it be earthy, mild, or robust.

Before lighting, smell the cigar to get a hint of its raw scent and potential flavor notes.

As you light the cigar and begin to smoke, draw the smoke into your mouth but do not inhale it. Let the smoke envelop your palate, noticing the layers of flavor—perhaps hints of cedar, chocolate, or spice.

Exhale slowly and pay attention to the aftertaste that lingers, which might change subtly as the cigar burns down.

Additionally, take a moment to appreciate the aroma of the smoke around you, which can complement the taste and enhance the overall experience.

Each puff should be taken leisurely, allowing the cigar to cool between draws to maintain the integrity of the flavors.

Engage in this ritual in a calm setting where you can be attentive to the nuances of the cigar’s profile. This mindful approach not only maximizes your enjoyment but turns cigar smoking into a meditative, almost therapeutic, activity.

By embracing these techniques, you elevate the act of smoking a cigar from a simple habit to a rich, sensory exploration.

Differences Between Cigar and Cigarette Smoking

The differences between premium cigar and cigarette smoking are profound, both in how they are smoked and their respective health implications.

When asking “Do you inhale cigars?” it’s important to note that unlike cigarettes, cigars are not typically inhaled.

Cigar smoke is meant to be drawn into the mouth, allowing the smoker to savor the complex flavors from the tobacco leaf before gently exhaling.

This contrasts sharply with cigarette smoking, where the smoke is usually inhaled into the lungs, delivering nicotine more directly into the bloodstream.

Cigars and cigarettes also differ significantly in their construction and tobacco content.

Cigars are often made from a whole tobacco leaf wrapped around a tobacco filler, making them larger and containing more tobacco than cigarettes.

This results in a smoking session that can last from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on the cigar size, compared to the quick smoking time of cigarettes.

Premium cigars, often hand-rolled and aged, offer a breadth of flavors and smoking experiences that cigarette smoking does not.

Health implications also vary widely.

While all tobacco products present health risks, the risk profiles differ. Cigar smokers, who typically do not inhale, might face lower risks of lung diseases.

Cigarette smokers, on the other hand, are more susceptible to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and coronary heart disease due to inhalation. Both types of smoking contribute to secondhand smoke exposure, though the volume and concentration of smoke differ.

Understanding these distinctions helps illustrate why premium cigar smoking is often viewed more as an art form, a practice of tasting notes and flavors through a careful draw of smoke into the mouth, compared to the more habitual nature of cigarette smoking.

This cultural and practical difference underscores why many cigar smokers are drawn to the tradition of smoking premium, traditional cigars as a leisurely pastime, not merely for nicotine consumption.

Common Mistakes in Cigar Smoking

For new enthusiasts venturing into the world of cigar smoking, common mistakes can impact both the experience and appreciation of this fine art form.

A typical error is smoking cigars too quickly.

Unlike cigarettes, cigars are crafted to be enjoyed slowly. Smoking a cigar too rapidly can cause it to burn too hot, which may alter the natural flavors of the tobacco leaf, making them harsh and less enjoyable.

Using the wrong type of cigar cutter or cutting too much off the cigar’s cap can also ruin a good smoke.

A bad cut may affect the cigar’s airflow and can lead to an uneven burn, known as “canoeing.”

Premium cigars, especially, require a precise cut with a sharp cigar cutter to maintain the integrity of their carefully constructed wrapper leaf and ensure the best smoking experience.

New cigar smokers should take their time to learn about proper cigar smoking techniques and the different types of cigars available.

This knowledge can greatly enhance one’s enjoyment and ensure that the risks associated with tobacco use are minimized.

Understanding these basics helps to respect the tradition and craftsmanship that goes into producing each premium cigar.


1. Do you inhale cigar smoke?

  • No, unlike cigarette smoke, cigar smoke should not be inhaled into the lungs. The enjoyment of cigars lies in savoring the smoke in your mouth to appreciate the complex flavors.

2. How do I choose the right cigar?

  • Select a cigar based on your personal taste preferences and the occasion. Consider the strength, from mild to full-bodied, which correlates with the intensity of flavor and nicotine content. Size and shape also affect the smoking time and intensity.

3. What is the proper way to light a cigar?

  • Use a butane lighter or a wooden match for a cleaner taste. Aim to evenly toast the foot of the cigar before taking your first puff. Avoid petrol lighters as they can affect the flavor of the tobacco.

4. How long does it take to smoke a cigar?

  • The time it takes to smoke a cigar can vary greatly depending on its size and type. A smaller cigar may take about 30 minutes, while a larger one can last for over an hour.

5. Can I relight a cigar if it goes out?

  • Yes, you can relight a cigar if it goes out. First, gently tap off any excess ash, then reheat the foot evenly before drawing again. However, try to relight it within an hour to avoid any bitterness.

6. How do I cut a cigar correctly?

  • Use a sharp cigar cutter to make a clean cut. You should cut just above the cap line, ensuring not to cut too deep into the body of the cigar as this can cause it to unravel.

7. What should I do with the ash?

  • Allow the ash to form and fall off naturally, usually around an inch in length. This helps regulate the temperature of the burn and contributes to the flavor and smoking experience.

8. Is cigar smoking as harmful as cigarette smoking?

  • All tobacco use carries health risks. Premium cigar smoking is generally not done as frequently as cigarette smoking but involves higher amounts of tobacco per use, which can be equally harmful, especially without inhalation. It’s important to be aware of the risks, such as oral and throat cancers.

9. How can I store cigars to maintain their quality?

  • Store cigars in a humidor, which controls humidity at an optimal level to keep the cigars fresh. A stable environment of about 70% humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

10. What are the signs of a well-made cigar?

  • A well-made cigar will have a firm body without soft spots, a smooth wrapper, and a uniform color. It should draw smoothly and burn evenly, producing a firm ash.

These FAQs cover the basics of cigar smoking, offering insights into how to maximize enjoyment while understanding the craft behind each cigar.