How to Smoke a Cigar

May 6, 2019

For many of us, this might seem like a ridiculous concept.  However, since my days in the retail store I cannot begin to tell you how many people I’ve had to walk through the early steps of smoking a cigar.  I’m not talking about the more nuanced aspects, such as retrohaling or what a cold draw is.  I’m talking about those simple procedures that come second nature to most of us.

If you are just becoming a member of the cigar community, there is no shame in not knowing all the steps or being confused.  Whenever anyone starts something new, there is a period where they are going to mess up or not get the full experience.  So, to help you along, I’ve put together a simple guide on how to smoke a cigar.

Choosing a Cigar

The first step is simply choosing the cigar you want.  Considering you are new, this might seem like a monumental task.  However, by talking to another member of the community or your local cigar store employee, they should be able to guide you on what cigar would be perfect for you.  Although not all-new cigar smokers should be treated the same, I usually recommend something mellow and smooth for your first experience.

We have a plethora of articles to guide you on this part of the journey.  Check out our various Top 5 lists and videos to find that perfect cigar for you.  They have all the information regarding strength, flavor, and even pairings.


The next step is picking up some cigar accessories.  While there are several different kinds of cutters and lighters available, I suggest you start out simple.  You want a sharp, less expensive cutter, preferably with two blades and either wood matches or a one flame butane lighter.

There are different styles of cutters such as guillotine, punch, and v-cut.  For a more extensive look, you can check out our article on different cutting styles.

Cutting the Cigar

Unlike other tobacco products, premium cigars come with a closed head, meaning it is covered with tobacco to form a rounded end.  When looking at the head, you will see what is known as a cap.

A cap is a piece of tobacco glued on the end, separately from the rest of the wrapper.  You will see a distinct line separating this piece of tobacco from the rest.  You want to cut just above this line.  If you cut too high, you will not be able to draw or pull the smoke.  If you cut too low, you risk unraveling the rest of the cigar. Check out our extensive article on cutting cigars to learn more.

Cigars come in many different sizes and styles.  For a beginner, I suggest seeking out a Parejo.  A Parejo is your standard, rounded cigar that is capped on one end and opened on the other.

Lighting the Cigar

Once you cut your cigar, take your light and slowly go around the edges of the foot, or bottom, of the cigar.  This is called toasting, and it ignites the outer layers of the cigar that hold it together.  After toasting, place the cut end in your mouth while placing the flame at the foot.

Gently begin to suck the smoke into your mouth and a slow rate to ignite the entire foot.  Do not inhale the smoke, this is the biggest faux pa for new cigar smokers.  Simply swirl the smoke in your mouth and then blow the smoke out.

It sounds simple enough, but as we all know, there are plenty of people who have no guidance and end up ruining their cigar experience.  Now that you have the intimal steps, you know how to smoke a cigar the proper way and begin to enjoy them as they were meant to be enjoyed.

If you’re new to cigars and the cigar community, you can learn everything you need to know about enjoying your first cigars from the JR University


One response to “How to Smoke a Cigar”

  1. […] a premium handmade cigar is supposed to be an experience. Enjoyed. Savored. Appreciated. That should be reason enough for you to smoke your top-shelf cigar […]

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