While many gentlemen smoke cigars, not all cigar smokers are gentlemen. The mark of a true gentleman is his ability to smoothly navigate any social situation. To do this, he must familiarize himself with etiquette—including the etiquette that governs the smoking of cigars. The following is a list of ten rules that gentlemen always follows while preparing to smoke, while smoking or while extinguishing a cigar.
A Gentleman Always Asks Permission
Outside of being in a smoke shop, always ask permission from those around you before lighting a cigar. It’s important to remember that not everyone derives as much enjoyment from cigars as you do. Some people have respiratory problems that make it difficult for them to be around second-hand smoke. Others simply can’t abide the smell.
Whatever the particulars of the situation, you have a social obligation as a gentleman to do what you can to ensure the comfort of those around you. If you ask to smoke a cigar and the answer is no, do not badger or demand explanations from the person who refused you—it negates the original purpose of asking.
A Gentleman Always Brings Enough to Share
Cigars are like tires: you should always have a spare. You can’t enjoy something as good as a cigar in public without being reasonably sure that someone else is going to ask you for one, and there’s absolutely nothing worse than a stingy cigar-smoker. You don’t need to be passing out $50 Royal Salomones at parties, but you do need to make sure you come prepared to demonstrate your generosity when the occasion calls for it.
The sharing of cigars should be wordless. You should never beg or hassle someone for a cigar. If you want a cigar that badly, you should be carrying your own. Likewise, when you offer someone a cigar, the offer should be made silently—simply hold out an open cigar case and let the person decide for themselves whether or not they want one.
A Gentleman Never Lights Another Gentleman’s Cigar
People who have never smoked a cigar before often operate under the mistaken assumption that it is polite to light another person’s cigar for them. This is an understandable and easily-forgivable mistake, but it’s still a mistake. If you light another person’s stogie, you run the risk of ruining the flavor by accidently forcing them to draw too hard on their cigar. Unless specifically requested, let others light their own sticks.
A Gentleman Knows When to Remove His Band
The debate over whether or not a person should remove the band from the cigar they’re smoking is as old as it is laborious. There are strong arguments on both sides.
Some people consider it acceptable to remove the band from your cigar when you’re halfway finished with it. The rationale behind this position is that the heat from the cigar warms the glue of the band, making it easier to remove without destroying your cigar. Others consider leaving the band on a form of bragging; a way of drawing attention to the price and quality of the cigar you are smoking.
There is no universal rule governing cigar bands. The best way to avoid a cigar-smoking faux pas is to be aware of your surroundings. If the people you’re smoking with removed the bands from their cigars before they started smoking, it might behoove you to do the same. Likewise, if you’re smoking a cigar that is significantly more expensive than the cigars being smoked by those you’re with, you might want to consider removing the band. The key to your behavior lies in the respect for those around you.
A Gentleman Knows How to Hold His Cigar
Don’t hold your cigar between your index finger and your middle finger. A cigar is not a cigarette and it shouldn’t be held like one. A cigar should be held between your thumb and your index finger. Under no circumstances should you use your cigar to gesture or point at another person or at an object in the distance. It’s dangerous and it’s not what your cigars are intended for.
A Gentleman Never Chews His Cigar
Nobody likes a slobbery cigar. Chewing on your cigar moistens the wrapper and increases the likelihood that your cigar will fall apart while you smoke it. It also makes a mess. Bits of tobacco get into your mouth or spill onto the front of your shirt. Lastly, it makes the tobacco damp and heavy, restricting air flow and ruining the flavor of your cigar. If you really need something to chew on, save yourself $6 and invest in a pack of gum. Also, please don’t talk with a cigar in your mouth. At best, it’s rude and at worst, it sounds like you’re talking with a mouthful of marbles and makes otherwise intelligent conversation difficult.
A Gentleman Knows That Smoking a Cigar is a Leisurely Activity
Never smoke a cigar while walking, driving or working. A good cigar should be a gift you give yourself after a hard day or an unexpected bit of good news. Smoking a cigar should be something you set aside time to do, not something you do when you’re already occupied. There’s no point in smoking a cigar if you’re so distracted by whatever else it is you’re doing that you forget to appreciate the flavor and experience.
A Gentleman Takes His Time
When smoking a cigar, the aspiring gentleman should be careful not to draw on his cigar more than once a minute. If you smoke a cigar too quickly, you could risk overheating your cigar and ruining its flavor. Besides, what’s the rush? If you don’t have time to properly enjoy the cigar you are smoking, then you don’t have time to smoke a cigar. In these situations, it’s usually best to keep your cigar stowed away until you have the time to appreciate it properly.
A Gentleman Doesn’t Chain-Smoke Cigars
Chain-smoking cigars is almost as blasphemous as chewing on them. Cigars are not cheap cigarettes and they should not be treated as such. Many people say that you should wait at least fifteen minutes between cigars. Personally, I think you should wait thirty—especially if the cigar you’re going to smoke is a different brand from the one you just finished. Give your palate time to cleanse itself so you can get the most out of the next cigar you smoke.
A Gentleman Doesn’t Crush Cigars in Ashtrays
When you smoke a cigar, the tobacco inside the cigar amasses oils and tars that are contained by the cigar wrapper. When you stub your cigar out in an ashtray, it splits the wrapper, which causes your cigar to smolder and release a foul-smelling plume of smoke. If you’re finished smoking your cigar, simply let it go out on its own and discreetly dispose of the stub.
Some people claim that, if you let your cigar go out on its own, you can return to it within the hour and relight it without ruining the flavor. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s certainly better than trying to relight a cigar that’s been stubbed out. Cigars that have been stubbed out and relit taste like the ashtrays you put them out in—devoid of flavor and utterly unenjoyable.