How to Puff a Cigar

June 22, 2015


If you’re new to the world of cigars, there are a few tricks you must learn in order to get the ultimate enjoyment out of each smoke.

First and foremost, properly drawing a cigar delivers a full experience and allows you to truly appreciate the tobacco’s flavor. The cigar draw is definitely a key aspect.

Likewise, making mistakes can mark you as a novice, and nothing says “noob” like taking a deep draw and collapsing into a fit of coughing from the smoke!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to know how to puff and smoke a cigar properly, like a pro.

Choose the Right Cigar to Smoke

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 drink pairings.

Ensure You Have the Correct Cigar Accessories

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.

A set of stylish accessories for cigar smoking.

Start Out Slowly

Pick a mild cigar that will allow you to draw easily and bask in the flavor of the smoke. Ask the tobacconist at your local B&M to recommend a few milder cigars and buy one of each from several brands.

Beware shorter cigars because the hot part will be closer to your mouth, which is something a beginner doesn’t need.

The best smoke for a newbie is a long, fat and mild stick because it will burn cooler and last longer. It’s perfectly ok to start with inexpensive cigars and work your way up to premium smokes.

Until you’ve identified your preferences, don’t buy too many cigars of a single type. Furthermore, store your new cigars in Ziploc Baggies until you’re ready to spring for a humidor.

How to Cut Your 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.

A man carefully cuts the end of a cigar.

How to Light Your Cigar

A butane lighter is ideal for lighting your cigar, but plain old matches will do to start. Just don’t use a Bic® or anything else that can introduce unwanted substances into your smoke.

Place the uncut end of the cigar in your mouth, then hold it in one hand just above, but not touching the flame.

Begin puffing as you slowly rotate the cigar. It may take a few rotations and drags to fully light the cigar, so don’t stop! You’ll know the cigar is properly lit when you see a glow around the outer rim of the tobacco and the smoke draws easily.

One popular system of drawing is the “1-2-3 method” which involves taking three puffs. The first two are short and strong while the third is long and solid. Done correctly, this will allow the oils in the foot of the cigar to heat up more rapidly and permeate the rest of the smoke.

For a top and detailed article on how to light your favorite smoke, check out this how-to guide.

How to Smoke Your Cigar

Now that you have your cigar properly lit, it’s time to relax and enjoy it, but you do have to follow a few more pointers. For example, rotate it every 30 to 60 seconds while puffing so it won’t go out. You need to develop a rhythm that allows you to smoke the cigar at the right speed for maximum enjoyment.

Also, be sure to pull in enough smoke to experience the cigar’s tasty nuances.

Smoke it too fast and it will burn hot, which is damaging to the flavor; smoke too slowly and it will not stay lit. If it goes out, you have to go through the lighting process all over again.

Do not ever inhale! Instead, taste and savor the smoke before blowing it out. The trick is to master the act of drawing and expelling – not inhaling and exhaling.

A Man enjoying a cigar in a lavish setting.

Pro Cigar Smoking Tips

Unlike smoking a cigarette, the point of cigar smoking is to savor the blend’s flavor.

To do this, you need to draw slowly, just a few times a minute. Swirl the smoke in your mouth, allowing it to go all the way to the back.

This way, you’ll get the full impact of each puff. After a thorough swirl, try to draw the smoke to the back of your throat and exhale it through your nose.

This maneuver may take a little practice, but it will allow you to invigorate even more senses and truly appreciate the tobacco’s subtleties. Do not feel like you have to flick the ashes after every puff.

Most cigars will hold the ashes until they get to be a half-inch to an inch long, provided there’s no wind.

How often you have to roll off the ashes depends on the length of the filler tobacco and whether there’s a breeze or draft.

To learn more about ash, read our Cigar Ash 101 guide.

How to Finish Your Cigar

You don’t have to smoke a cigar all the way down. Smoking is supposed to be about pleasure, so smoke until you don’t feel like it any longer. Once a cigar has been lit, you can smoke it only once. Don’t even think of putting it aside and relighting it later!

Proper cigar etiquette calls for placing the finished smoke in an ashtray and allowing it to burn itself out. What’s more, vigorously stubbing out the cigar looks messy.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Drawing on a cigar is a fine art and takes a little practice, but once you get it down, the smoking experience gets better and better with every puff.

With a little effort, you will soon be smoking as smoothly as a seasoned cigar aficionado! You never know, you might begin to pick up some of the more difficult tricks, such as retrohaling.

A young man sits in a chair while enjoying a fine cigar.


3 responses to “How to Puff a Cigar”

  1. Norma Blum says:

    Thank you

  2. […] of the best reasons to smoke a cigar slowly is that they burn, and like anything that burns, introducing more oxygen, that is, by puffing […]

  3. […] which affects their first experience with a new cigar brand. You shouldn’t be afraid to take your first draw if you hold your cigar […]

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