Cigar Academy: Cigar Etiquette

Cigar humidor at Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe in Albany, NYAsk anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I shouldn’t be seen in polite company. In my mind, salad forks are used when you run out of regular forks. I always thought that Emily Post was a deep NFL pass pattern. So it would probably come as a shock that I would address the subject of cigar etiquette, but I have a few “rules” that are, to me, just a matter of common sense and civility. So, if you want to avoid interpersonal conflict while enjoying a stogie, you might want to read further.

The purpose behind writing this is to change the perception of cigar smokers as ignorant and boorish. Although we probably all have moments where we would like to return the rudeness of an in-your-face anti-smoker, it never pays to do so, and if you assault them with good manner and politeness, sympathies will tend to go your way, so…

Ask permission before lighting your cigar

This, to me, is a no-brainer. Unless you’re in a cigar lounge or at a cigar event, always ask permission before lighting up, whether you’re inside or not. Although there is little evidence that any real physical harm is caused by secondhand smoke (if you have any real scientific evidence to the contrary, please contact me), there are still people who are bothered by the smell of cigar smoke or may be sensitive to odors, so it’s only common courtesy to ask before lighting up. Also, asking permission gives you an opportunity to find out the location of an ashtray.

Borrowing cigar accessories

Every so often, you may need to use someone else’s cutter or lighter. I’m sure that other people have asked to use yours from time to time, so it’s not a big imposition, but there are a few things to bear in mind;

  1. If you use a lighter that runs out of gas, please let the owner know when you return it.
  2. Don’t make adjustments to a lighter without asking the owner first (no one wants to lose an eyebrow).
  3. Don’t lick your cigar or wet it before using someone else’s cutter, for obvious reasons… gross!

Carry a spare cigar, or five

If you’re at a gathering where cigar smoking will be permitted, it’s always a good idea to carry a few extra cigars with you. Virtually every time I go to an outdoor wedding or party where it’s acceptable to light up, I will wind up hearing something like, “I used to enjoy a nice cigar every so often, but I haven’t smoked one in a while.” That’s tantamount to the person saying, “Can I have one?” Of course, being in the business, I want to keep a few sticks to be able to hand out for good will, and the best way to maintain friendly relations is to be able to hand out a few stogies.

What’s the story with cigar bands?

In England and some other European countries, it’s considered gauche to leave the band on your cigar, as it’s looked upon as a form of bragging. In the U.S., we tend to leave the band on until we reach the halfway point. As long as you’re not lighting up in London, you’re probably fine regardless of your preference. Personally, I wait until the cigar is at least 1/3rd smoked to allow the stick to warm up enough to soften the glue, so the band will remove easily. Nothing bothers me more than removing a band only to have it take part of the wrapper with it.

Corral your cigar smoke

This is one of the simplest things to do, but we often ignore it- when you want to extinguish your cigar, just set it down in an ashtray and let it go out. If you stub out your stogie, you’ll cause a massive plume of smoke to spread throughout the area, and you will definitely draw the ire of others, including other cigar smokers.

There are probably a number of other etiquette issues I could address, but they escape me. If you can think of any you’d like mentioned, leave a comment below and I will write about them in a future blog entry.

About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at or by calling 1-800-494-9144.