Cigar 101: Etiquette or Preferences – A Guest Article by Mike Holmes

By Mike Holmes

I have been a cigar smoker for around 12 years now. Over the years I have read many articles about cigar Etiquette, I have scoured books on the topic and no matter how long I ponder on this topic, I always draw the same conclusions….

A lot of our so called Etiquette in various cigar circles are based mostly on personal preference and marketed to every day cigar smokers as universal cigar Etiquette. Now before you stone me because of my opinion, this article is reflecting my own personal views that have developed after 12 years of cigar smoking and enjoyment. There is a huge influx of new cigar enthusiasts these days. I can remember when I first started, how personally intimidating it was to learn how to smoke cigars. I kept wondering if I was doing something right or wrong. I am here to tell you that there are mostly NO wrong ways to enjoy a cigar. (Except if you light the wrong end of course lol).

I am going to highlight 5 of the most popular etiquette opinions and hopefully all the Do’s and Don’ts will become less intimidating and you can move on to the enjoyment of cigars instead of worrying about if you’re doing something wrong or right.

Let’s dive in!


The first common etiquette rule talked about with cigar smoking is….

Lighting the cigar!

I’ve read articles and sections of books saying that using a torch or a match is the only way to light a cigar. I personally do not agree with that statement. YES matches and torch lighters and even cedar spills are wonderful ways to light a cigar but it is not the ONLY way.

You can also light a cigar with a soft flame lighter and even a (wait for it)….Drum roll please…BIC! Yes I did go there.

I have talked to several brand owners about the topic and as long as you aren’t scorching the cigar and lighting to quickly there is nothing wrong with ANY preferred method of lighting cigars. Everyone is different so don’t let anyone tell you how to light your cigar unless you are just scorching the hell out of it or lighting it at the wrong end lol.


The second common etiquette rule talked about in cigar smoking circles is…

Band on or off?

Honestly band on or off is one of the oldest arguments but for the sake of not arguing I will confirm that however you like to enjoy your cigars is totally up to you. I personally keep the band on until I am forced to take it off once the cigar is smoked to that point. The reason why many of the old school cigar publications say it’s bad etiquette to leave the band on, is because it can be seen as bragging if it’s a more expensive cigar. In this new age of social media we can all see what people are smoking and even get turned on to new brands by smoking with the band on. As long as you aren’t being a snob about it I always say smoke it how you like as long as you enjoy!


The third common etiquette rule talked about in cigar circles is….

Bringing your own cigars to a lounge!

I can certainly see why this can be a problem and seen as an Etiquette issue. The major thing with bringing your own cigars to a lounge is support of the local business . Look I bring my own cigars to lounges all the time. BUT I always make a purchase normally about $30-50. There is nothing wrong with bringing cigars; AS long as you make a reasonable purchase. It’s just good form and you want to have a spot to hide from your wife or significant other and enjoy a good cigar, right?


The fourth common etiquette rule talked about in cigar circles is….

Dipping the head of your cigar in a drink!

Yes, I have actually seen articles about dipping the head of your cigar in your drink. Apparently it makes the cigar smoking experience magical or something like that. I wouldn’t say that it is an Etiquette rule, made to be law. BUT I have seen it enough times and it has made me want to comment on it. By no means does this make you some superior aficionado. Of course, if you did decide to do it we shouldn’t stone you for it!


The 5th and final common etiquette rule talked about in cigar circles is….

How far you smoke a cigar until you are finished.

There’s people who believe that you should only smoke until you reach the band, or that you should only nub a cigar. Contrary to popular belief this is simply just a personal preference and shouldn’t be imposed on the cigar smoker as law. I personally enjoy smoking until the cigar is too hot or it stops becoming enjoyable. Sometimes there is a little bit left of the cigar and sometimes I smoke it until I burn my lips or fingers. It all depends on the Cigar. Shouts out to Rick Francis for the idea on the final topic for this article. He hangs out at Paradise Cigarz in Rockledge, FL.


To all my newer cigar enthusiasts, please don’t let veteran cigar smokers impose their preferences on you. There is a lot to talk about when it comes to cigar etiquette but a lot of rules are simply preferences. Cigar smoking is supposed to be fun! Do what makes you happy and put some smoke in the air!


About Mike Holmes

Mike Holmes
Mike Holmes

Mike Holmes has been enjoying cigars and the cigar lifestyle for 12 years. His pallet is self proclaimed  as “very wide” and enjoys everything from AJ Fernandez cigars to Zino Platinum cigars. When he isn’t writing articles he works in public opinion research and enjoys shirtless selfies. Mike is a chapter leader in the Cigar Cartel. He can be found on social media at:

When not at home caring for his Grandma or at work, Mike is a regular patron at Paradise Ciagrz in Rockledge. Fl or the Executive Cigar Shop and Lounge in downtown Melbourne, FL.

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