For some, there’s nothing better than heading to a cigar lounge, lighting up, and taking in the atmosphere. But if you’re a new smoker, you may not know the ropes when it comes to the dos and don’ts of smoking at a lounge, at a friend’s house, or smoking in public.
Whether you’re a serious cigar smoker who takes pride in the cigars you smoke and makes lighting up a ceremony of sorts, or you simply know the value of a good cigar, there is proper cigar etiquette that you must follow and plenty of faux pas that you’ll want to avoid when you’re smoking around fellow cigar enthusiasts. If you’re new to cigar smoking then this guide on etiquette will be invaluable, especially if you plan on applying for a membership at your local cigar lounge.
The Guide to Smoking Etiquette
Zino Davidoff wrote the first rules on cigar etiquette way back in 1967. Some aficionados closely follow the rules and suggestions in Davidoff’s guide concerning what to do and what not to do with a cigar. Some of these rules are tradition-based, while others popped up due to evolving smoking trends.
There are many dos and don’ts when it comes to smoking a fine cigar. Most cigar enthusiasts can agree that you should never dip your cigar in your whiskey or scotch, should never chew off the end or lick your cigar, and you should never remove the band. Some are also firm believers in never cutting a good cigar in half, relighting it, or grinding it out in an ashtray. Whatever cigar rules you happen to follow, as long as you’re enjoying your cigar does it really matter? Maybe not when you’re smoking at home, but if you’re at your local cigar lounge, there are some practical rules that you should follow, in order to not alienate yourself.
Common sense will tell you that it’s never a good idea to blow smoke in someone’s face, not to leave behind a pile of ashes on the floor, and don’t make a show of stubbing out an expensive cigar. Wherever you smoke, make sure you show the others in the immediate vicinity some mutual respect. But for those new to smoking, there are some basic guidelines that you should follow that will save you from making some embarrassing mistakes in front of your new smoking buddies.
At the Lounge
If you’ve decided to visit your local cigar lounge, then whatever you do, don’t bring in an outside cigar. These lounges often depend on sales to remain in business. When you bring in a cigar from another lounge or one from home it just shows that you only want to take advantage of the amenities that the lounge has to offer, without showing your support and not giving anything back. If you feel like you just have to bring in a cigar from your stockpile, maybe because the lounge doesn’t carry your cigar of choice, then at the very least purchase something from the lounge’s cigar shop, whether it’s a cutter or lighter. Show your support and appreciation for your surroundings.
Avoid Stubbing Out a Cigar
When you’re finished smoking, avoid stubbing out your cigar. This is one of the most common cigar smoking rules that most cigar smokers follow. Instead, when you’re finished smoking, simply lay it down in the ashtray and allow it to go out by itself. When you smash the nub of the cigar like a cigarette many fellow smokers find this vulgar since it can release a very unpleasant odor.
Never Smoke in the Humidor
If you’re at a smoking lounge, then your first stop will probably be their walk-in humidor. These humidors are carefully controlled. By lighting your cigar in the walk-in humidor, right after you’ve purchased it, you’re being disrespectful since the smell of your cigar can negatively impact the cigars on the shelf. Never light up in a humidor, instead, wait until you’re seated.
Lighting Someone’s Cigar
Lighting someone’s cigarette is much different than lighting someone’s cigar. When you light another person’s cigarette, you’re being helpful and even courteous, but cigar smoking is very different. Never light another person’s cigar. Lighting and cutting a cigar is a very personal thing and most smokers have a preferred way of lighting their cigars.
Respect A Fellow Smoker’s Choice in Cigars
Everyone’s taste is different. Don’t speak down to someone or laugh at them for their choice in cigars. Just smoke what you like and don’t compare the cigars you smoke to the cigars that your friends are smoking.
Never use another person’s cutter if the cigar has already been in your mouth. It’s not sanitary and you’ll only come off as rude if another person has seen the cigar in your mouth and you ask to use their cigar cutter.
Clean Up After Yourself
While it’s true that accidents can happen, try to avoid ashing all over the floor and do your best to anticipate when the ashes will drop off. Make sure you gently roll the cigar into the ashtray to prevent getting ashes everywhere. Once your cigar has about an inch of ash at the end, you’ll gently tap it into the ashtray. Some smokers prefer to roll the nub against the wall of the ashtray in order to shape it neatly. Never tap the ashes on the floor. If you’re smoking, make sure you stick close by to an ashtray, or buy a portable ashtray and be responsible for cleaning up after yourself. To learn more, read my article on how to ash a cigar.
Respect the Lounge’s Rules
Respect the lounge. Many will have their own rules in place, which should be followed at all times. These rules are designed to enhance your smoking experience and ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time.
Don’t Be a Mooch
When you’re at an event, don’t be a mooch. There are many lounges and shops that host events that include free drinks and food that’s offered to customers as a way of saying thank you for their business. Don’t show up to one of these events, eat and drink your fill and then leave. Instead, take advantage of the discounts that are offered and show your support for the business by also purchasing a few cigars and/or smoking accessories.
Avoid Sloppy Habits
Never dip your cigar in your brandy or whiskey. This is a habit that Winston Churchill was fond of, but you’re no Winston Churchill. Just because he made this mistake doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to do the same thing. A cigar maker will spend many years perfecting a cigar’s flavor profile. If you aren’t able to handle the flavor of a cigar, or you don’t enjoy it, then don’t smoke it. If you want a cigar you can dip in your drink then stick with low priced cigars. Dipping your cigar in your drink is akin to adding some ketchup to filet mignon.
Public smoking these days isn’t what it was just twenty years ago, especially now that we know more about the risks of cigar smoking.
Never smoke a cigar while you’re walking around in public. While it’s obvious that you enjoy the aroma of your cigar, those around you may not. This is a matter of courtesy and respect since many people have medical conditions, allergies, or have serious health concerns regarding breathing in harmful smoke. Smoke in a designated smoking area, your local lounge or smoke shop, at home, or in your backyard.
Should I Remove the Cigar Band?
In the past, removing the cigar band was a way to basically not show off how expensive the cigar is that you’re smoking, and it saved those who were smoking low-quality cigars from embarrassment. These days, more and more smokers are leaving the band on since fellow smokers may want to know what type of cigar they’re smoking. Whether or not you remove the band can be a matter of personal preference, or you can follow the cues of your fellow smokers. You don’t want to be the only smoker in the room advertising what cigar you’re smoking.
Prepare Your Cigar the Right Way
As a new smoker, when it comes to cutting and lighting your cigar, you may be all thumbs, especially if you’ve purchased an expensive cigar. When you prepare a cigar, begin by cutting the cap using the best cigar cutter, such as the Xikar Xi3 3D Mayan. You can use a variety of different styles of cutters such as a v-cutter punch, or double blade cutter. Avoid using a box cutter or penknife, and never ever bite the cap off, as doing so is just bad taste and can also lead to a number of problems, such as the cigar unraveling.
Toasting the Foot
Before you smoke at your local lounge, it’s probably a good idea to learn how to light a cigar beforehand. When you’re toasting the foot of your cigar, make sure you keep the flame as far away from the foot as possible. If you’re using a torch lighter, then you’ll end up easily ruining the cigar by keeping the flame too close. Never hold a cigar in your mouth when you light it, hold it in your hand so you can clearly see what you’re doing. When the foot begins to glow red you’ll blow on it gently in order to spread the heat across the foot. At times, this may require more toasting and will depend on the type of cigar you’re smoking. Bottom line, never put a cigar in your mouth and light it like you would a cigarette, otherwise you’ll end up overcooking it and you’ll look like the newbie you are in front of all your new smoking buddies.
There’s always a smoker who ends up finishing their cigar in record time. The chances are they used to smoke cigarettes, which is why they’re constantly puffing on their cigar. For a cigar, it should only be puffed on once a minute. This will allow the cigar to cool down and allows the smoker to pick up the aromas and flavors that the maker intended. Smoking a cigar is supposed to be very relaxing. So, savor it and take your time.
If you’re someone who smokes cigar after cigar, then you may have a serious problem on your hands. There’s nothing really wrong with smoking one cigar after another. However, you really should give your palate a break. I recommend waiting at least half an hour before lighting up another one, especially if you’ve invested in only the finest cigars. When you chain smoke, you’re putting yourself at risk of palate burnout. While the first cigar you smoked may have tasted amazing, if you don’t give yourself a break between cigars then the next one isn’t going to taste right or nearly as good. The entire point of smoking is to relax and enjoy the experience, flavor, and aroma of your fine cigar.
These days, not many smokers will follow the strict cigar etiquette that many did in the late 1960s. However, there are many rules that many smokers do follow, especially when it comes to respecting a cigar lounge or being courteous to others when smoking in public. Basically, the rules that I’ve covered here are the main ones that most smokers still follow to this day, although the rules can vary from lounge to lounge depending on how strict the lounge is. If you’re planning on joining a private lounge, then it’s safe to say that they’re probably pretty strict when it comes to following the proper etiquette. As a new smoker, you’re allowed to make mistakes every now and then. But in order to save yourself a little embarrassment, study the rules and basic etiquette guidelines and you’re sure to fit right in, while also getting the most out of your next smoking experience.