The Truth Behind Why People Smoke Cigars

Picture of Justin R.
Justin R.

Cigar Enthusiast, Chief Editor

Table of Contents

There are many reasons why people smoke cigars. Some enjoy the taste, while others appreciate the social aspects of smoking cigars. But what is the real reason why people smoke cigars? We will explore the different reasons why people enjoy this habit and find the true underlying reason why they do it.

Why Do People Smoke Cigars?

People smoke cigars because they enjoy the taste and the experience. Cigars provide a unique flavor and smoke that is different from cigarettes. They can be enjoyed with friends or alone, and are a great way to relax and unwind.

Smoking Cigars: Celebrating Tradition

In the 15th century, indigenous people introduced European explorers to the use of tobacco. Smoking rolled leaves and sharing them with others marked a momentous occasion. Rising smoke bridged earth and sky, a means of giving thanks for safe travel, successful harvest, and secure community.

Smoking Cigars Celebrating Traditions

Explorers returning to Europe brought tobacco leaves and the accompanying traditions with them. Spain, in particular, refined the art of wrapping tobacco, creating the kind of cigars we recognize today.

When Spanish settlers returned to the Americas, they brought their own traditions of growing, drying, and rolling. But the association of smoking with celebration, gratitude, and community continues to this day. Here are a few typical occasions that often call for smoking a cigar:

Birth of a Child

Although today’s father-to-be won’t be smoking anywhere near a hospital, a celebratory cigar is a longstanding tradition at the birth of a child. Where did this tradition come from? In the old days, perhaps enjoying a slow-burning stogie was an alternative to chain-smoking cigarettes in the waiting room. Or maybe it’s because a premium cigar is aged to perfection, signifying hopes of long life and happiness for a newborn.

Today, iconic brands like Arturo Fuente and Macanudo have made this idea a part of their company image. Some brands can even be ordered with an “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” label.

Arturo Fuente It's a Girl Natural

Getting Married

smoking cigars while Getting Married

What better way to celebrate a stag night or a hen party? When the gang gets dressed in wedding finery, a classy cigar is a perfect accessory. Why cigars for a wedding? Perhaps a gift of tobacco was a traditional part of a dowry or a blessing that accompanied a young couple, infusing their new home with sacred smoke. Today, a Romeo y Julieta 1875 or a Puro Prestige is a great way to mark these moments of romance, revelry, and new responsibility.

Holiday Celebrations

Whether it’s a winter party parlor or the countdown to the New Year, cigar smoking is a festive decoration. Cigars’ flavors pair well with the taste of other holiday fares like roasted meat and spiced drinks. And the creamy smoke of a San Cristobal Elegancia matches the rich aromas of food, fire, wine, and spirits that often accompany the holidays. Where once we made offerings of smoke on holy days, today, a holiday cigar is a great way to celebrate having made it through another year!

Cuban Cigars Christmas Gift

Game Night

Nothing says poker night like premium cigars and fine spirits. But cigar smoking makes sense for other gamers, too. A long-burning Padron Family Reserve, enjoyed with the occasional puff, works well for any quality herf, but it’s especially appropriate when you have to plan your hand or master your strategy. As in bygone days, the excitement of adrenaline and the relaxation of nicotine make great teammates.

Cigar Smoking: A Sensuous Experience

Why do people smoke cigars? The association of smoking cigars with celebrating special occasions has much to do with relaxation. Whereas a single cigarette contains just 10 mg of nicotine, a premium cigar can deliver 100 to 200 mg, making it ten times more relaxing.

Of course, spending quality time with your family or community is also associated with smoking: the smoke blends with a conversation about sports, politics, and life in general. Beyond these obvious reasons, cigar smoking is a satisfyingly sensual experience that also includes a number of careful and comforting rituals. Cigar smokers know that the experience addresses all the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch while holding the cigar, and smell.

Natural and Artisanal

Like cigarettes and alcohol, cigars can be bad for your health. But premium cigars are actually a product that is both natural and artisanal, a rarity in today’s society. The beautiful brown and tan hues result from organic processes accomplished without caustic dyes or accelerants. No artificial flavors or preservative chemicals go into crafting cigars: the taste and smell of an Aroma de Cuba are naturally occurring byproducts of the blending and aging processes.

Natural and Artisanal tobacco field

Blending tobacco and rolling a cigar is both an art and a science. Like producers of fine wine, cigar making is often a craft passed from generation to generation in a family business. It’s been said that more than 200 hands will touch a finely crafted cigar before it reaches your humidor.

Making the Cut

The experience of a cigar begins with its shape. The visible outer leaf is the most expensive, a carefully selected, pristine leaf without veins or blemishes. The inner binder is chosen for its combustibility, that satisfying burst of burning. And the third and innermost layer, the filler, is the creative work of the cigar maker, blending different kinds of tobacco for optimal flavor and aroma.

Before lighting up, however, a good cigar needs to be cut. The right spot is the slight taper at the head of the cigar, often called the shoulder. The right cut of torpedoes or piramides can affect the whole experience: what the cigar feels like in your hand and in your mouth. The right cutter and lighter are part of the ritual for cigar smokers.

Coming to the Light

Lighting a cigar is more like toasting a marshmallow than lighting a cigarette, and this is because too much burning and relighting can affect the aroma and flavor. Those who smoke cigars know that minimal contact with a gentle flame is the best means to avoid the smell and flavor of char and to enhance the natural qualities of the cigar.

An occasional puff every minute or so is the best way to smoke. Smoking cigars quickly, like you would a cigarette, can cause them to burn hot and produce unpleasant charred and bitter flavors. Instead, smoke cool and slow…savor the moment. But don’t let your cigar go out: relighting repeatedly can also increase the char and infuse your cigar with sulfuric fumes.

Keeping Calm, Ashing On

Unlike the ritual of tapping a cigarette, smoking a cigar means leaving the ash on for as long as possible. Ash acts like a temperature regulator, keeping the leaves cooler for long-lasting flavor. Premium cigars have leaves rolled for structure, producing surprisingly long ash that is part of the experience.

leaving cigar ash on

Choosing Wisely

Why do people smoke cigars? Of course, beyond sight, sound, touch, and the rituals of cutting and lighting, it’s all about the smell and taste. Unlike a cigarette, a cigar comes in a variety of flavors.

Like a rich wine or a dark expresso, some prefer an intense, full-bodied cigar. This type is packed with Ligero, the darkest, thick, and oily leaves roasted by direct exposure to the sun. Milder blends include more visos and secos, the leaves harvested from lower down the plant. But don’t be fooled. Like a fine whiskey, premium brands can taste mellow but sneak up on you!

And don’t be fooled by origin or price. Habanophiles swear by their Cubans, but today, the best blends might be grown in various places, from Nicaragua to Honduras and the Dominican Republic. The price tag isn’t always a signal of quality either. Some inexpensive brands score higher than pricey ones in blind tastings! It’s all part of the pleasure of choosing wisely.

History of Cigar Smoking

There’s a history behind the association of smoking and celebration, especially those that mark transitions–beginnings and endings. That experience depends on the obvious benefits of relaxing and slowing down to spend time with others.

But the sensuous appeal can’t be underestimated: from making your own cigars or choosing a brand, to making the cut and lighting up, the satisfying rituals address sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. But perhaps all of these aspects of the experience remind us to savor the moment before it goes up in smoke.