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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know we take a somewhat different stance on cigar etiquette than our peers. Our attitude is along the lines of “there’s no wrong way to smoke a cigar.” That’s not so say that lighting the cap, smoking from the foot and inhaling deeply are anything we’d recommend. But those things will effect you much more than those around you.
Etiquette is about having a pleasant social experience, and beyond the common sense stuff, many of the so-called cigar “don’ts” revolve around cultural preferences that are out of touch with reality.
Some examples: we hear that in Europe leaving the band on your cigar is a pompous, arrogant act. Or just look at Zino Davidoff’s famous 1967 essay on what not to do when smoking a cigar. We respect Davidoff immensely, but come on, we can’t smoke while walking, smoke more than half the cigar or… gasp… smoke while working? That makes a lot of us at BCP major offenders!
Making a huge list of don’ts is silly. Cigar smoking is simple. Cut it, light it, smoke it. If your friends are offended by the way you hold your cigar, get some new friends.
While we’re staunchly anti-cigar snob, there are a few breaches of etiquette that can’t be ignored. We see them happen all the time and for a beginner, they’re really the only things you need to be worried about.
1. Keep your eyes on that ash – A nice long tater tot of ash is the sign of a premium cigar. But when to let go? The point of letting the ash grow is to cool the smoke and increase flavor. But it won’t be the end of the world if you ash every few minutes, either. A good rule of thumb: outside, let that ash pile up. Inside, ash frequently. I have ended up with ash on every part of my clothing and some parts of other people’s clothing. It’s not pretty. Luckily I have not done any property damage. But the potential is there.
2. Smoke proudly, smoke mindfully– A few weeks ago at the Big Smoke we puffed cigars in a room of 1,000 people who were also puffing cigars. An opportunity like that comes along once in a blue moon, though. If someone has a problem with you smoking in a designated indoor smoking area, well, that’s their problem. At the same time, it’s just a cigar — don’t get all uppity that your “freedoms” are being trampled on and cause a scene. Understand that not everyone shares your passion for billowy clouds of tobacco smoke.
If you’re smoking outside, don’t let anyone stop you. Don’t blow your smoke into a baby stroller that’s passing by, but by all means don’t let dirty looks intimidate you. They’re probably doing something way worse to their bodies and are just taking out their guilt on you.
Just don’t blow smoke directly into someone’s face, especially in Europe. You’re liable to get your ash kicked.
3. Don’t put a cigar out like a cigarette – When I started smoking cigars, I ignored this advice. A cigarette smoker to begin with, it was just counter-intuitive to me that you’d want to let the cigar rest and go out by itself. But crushing your cigar out in the ashtray is guaranteed to make even the most smoke-soaked room reek. There are all sorts of scientific explanations for why this happens, the important thing to know is that letting a cigar go out on its own is usually going to be your last step.
When I’m on the golf course and I can’t let the cigar rest, I’ll dunk it in a puddle and toss it in the trash. In other outdoor venues I might crush the cigar out if I can’t attend to it as it extinguishes itself. That’ll work outside, but indoors you do not want to crush that baby out. Furthermore, a cigar that goes out will soon start to stink anyway. When indoors, dispose of your cigars promptly.
That’s about it for our advice, though if you think of something we forgot, please add it to the comments. Remember, you can always find a new cigar, but new friends are hard to come by!