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Lighting a cigar for the first time can be rather confusing.

On the most basic level, it seems pretty straightforward — you light the end that isn’t in your mouth and suck on the end that is. But it’s not quite that easy. There are subtle norms and conventions that cigar smokers tend to follow, and while you probably won’t be ridiculed for not knowing them, nobody wants to look like a complete beginner when everyone else starts lighting up.

To help you seem like you actually know what you’re doing, we’ve put together this quick-reference guide on how to smoke a cigar properly. Follow these rules, and not only will you look like you’ve done this before, but you’ll also get a more enjoyable smoking experience. Here are 10 tips that will help you look like a true cigar aficionado.

1. Smelling Your Cigar: Always remove the cellophane before smelling a cigar because with the cello on, you won’t smell the true essence of the cigar. Instead, you’ll pick up other scents, like cedar or wood notes from the box.

2. Cutting Your Cigar: First, using your cigar cutter of choice, make a deft cut or opening at the head of the cigar – the closed end, aka the part you will be putting between your lips. Don’t cut too far into the cap of the cigar. That will cause the wrapper, the outermost leaf, to unravel.

3. What To Do With The Band: We prefer to leave the band on. Trying to take it off risks tearing the wrapper. Also, the band provides a convenient reference point for holding the cigar. Finally and perhaps most importantly, not only is the band a thing of beauty, it tells others the brand of cigar you are smoking, a brand you should be proud to show off. Think of keeping the band on as a tribute to the cigar maker.

4. A Tip For Lighting: Don’t use cardboard matches. They’re tainted with chemicals and can ruin the cigar. Instead, use a torch or butane lighter.

5. Toast Before Lighting: It starts with toasting the foot of the cigar to prepare it for lighting. With the cigar at a 45 degree angle, hold the tip of the flame directly underneath the foot or tuck end of the cigar. Never let the flame touch the tobacco. The tip is the hottest part of the flame, and you want to toast the open end of the filler leaves to dry them out. This will prepare the tobacco to more readily accept the flame when you actually light the cigar. Gently rotate the cigar as you toast it.

6. How To Light Your Cigar: When a whiff of smoke starts to curl up (while toasting), place the cigar in your mouth, and puff gently while continuing to rotate the cigar over the tip of the flame without letting the flame touch the cigar. As you puff, you will eventually see the flame flare up and ignite the cigar’s foot. Continue to rotate the cigar, until the entire foot is glowing. Now you are ready to relax with your cigar.

7. How To Enjoy Your Cigar: Remember, a cigar is never inhaled. The smoke is sipped, like a fine wine, then gently blown out (exhaled), leaving all the flavor on your palate.

8. Pro Tip: One of the best tips is to occasionally blow the smoke over the ash of the cigar and inspect the ash. That shows you know to look for an even burn.

9: Keep The Ash On: Don’t try to knock off the ash. Let it fall on its own. A long ash is a sign of a quality cigar, so show it off.

10: How To Put Out Your Cigar: Never snuff out a fine cigar like a cigarette. Simply place the butt in an ashtray and let it go out of its own accord. Again, cigars are not made with chemicals that cause them to burn, so simply letting the cigar extinguish itself is the best way to end a great cigar smoking experience.


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