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Ah, it’s the age-old debate over whether to leave the band on or off your cigar when you smoke it. Let’s make this simple: there is no right answer. Or, for the optimist: Either way, it doesn’t really matter.
Some people will tell you leaving the band on a fancy cigar will give others the impression you’re arrogantly flaunting your wealth. We laugh at this idea. Sure, the band makes a statement. That statement is: I’m smoking this brand of cigar. If someone takes offense to that, they’re being insecure and irrational. Let them rip off their own bands if it makes them feel better, but don’t let anyone tell you how to smoke your cigar.
There are really only two sensible reasons to remove your cigar band. For some people it just feels better. Smoking is a tactile experience and for some removing the band makes the cigar feel better in their hand. For others, leaving the band on is more comfortable. Fair enough.
The only time you absolutely have to remove the band is if you’re about to smoke it! Foot bands like those on the Rocky Patel Edge must be removed. I’m sure a few newbies have missed this important point and complained that their cigar tasted like burnt paper.
There are several cigars that have a second band toward the middle of the cigar, and those will need to be removed if you want to smoke past them.
Some use the band at the head as a ‘point of no return’ — when the burn line reaches the band it’s time to stop smoking. It’s a personal preference that doesn’t really bear out scientifically. Cigars can be delicious right down to the nub. Plus, it’s not like you need a band to tell you where the burn line is in relation to the rest of the cigar unless you’re smoking in the dark.
If you do remove the band, just be careful not to rip the wrapper. Letting the cigar burn for ten minutes or so will soften the glue that holds the label to the wrapper. Whenever possible, undo the band at the seam before removing it. Just sliding a band off can sometimes give the cigar a ‘paper cut’ and shear some wrapper off.
Our official recommendation? Do whatever you want. As long as you don’t smoke the band or rip the wrapper taking it off, you’ll be a-OK. If someone turns their nose up at your fancy cigar band, blow a cloud in their face so they can at least get a taste of what they think they’re too good for.