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While many gentleman smoke cigars, not all cigars 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. Cigar etiquette is simply polite and courteous behavior whenever in a social cigar-smoking environment. Many of these rules stretch back to centuries ago amongst all the changes in environments and technology, and still hold up today. There are other principles that have been adopted as our society changes. But in the end, the general rule is courteous behavior towards others; including cigar enthusiasts (including new and experienced), non-smokers, retailers and staff.

The following is a list of rules that I feel are important to aid in the enjoyment of cigars for all:

DO: Smoke what you like and don’t feel like you need to smoke something else to fit in or impress someone.

DON’T: Belittle or chastise another cigar smoker for their cigar choice. There are thousands of different cigars on the market that fits everyone’s individual taste. I personally like fuller-bodied cigars, but I would never judge someone else for smoking a mild cigar.

DO: 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 gains 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. Don’t be afraid to ask!

DON’T: Stick a cigar up your nose or run it under your nose. When choosing a cigar at a shop or event, don’t stick it up your nose—that’s inconsiderate of others if you put it back down. You can get the aroma from the foot of a cigar by placing it a half-inch from your nose. If you touch it to your nose, have the decency to buy it rather than put it back in the box. This is probably my biggest pet peeve in the cigar business. If the cigar has cello on it, you will not get any aroma by trying to smell through the cello. If the cigar is sans cello, please only handle it by the band and be gentle. I’ve seen many individuals not only touch cigars to their nose but also damage cigars due to improper handling and then put them back in the box. That is a loss for the retailer as he will not be able to sell that cigar in the future.

DO: Ask for help if you don’t know much about cigars. Any retailer would happily answer your questions. This will help you to get the full enjoyment of indulging in a cigar. I have worked hundreds of events over the years. It is somewhat painful for me while at the same time amusing, to watch someone who obviously doesn’t know proper cigar cutting, lighting, etc., pretend that they really do. Put your ego aside and learn from others.

DON’T: Smoke too quickly. Doing so will overheat the tobacco, make the cigar’s taste harsh, and potentially cause construction problems. Cigars are meant to be enjoyed slowly. That is a big part of true cigar smoking. Slow down, decompress, contemplate … and enjoy. Note: I have found that the thinner the cigar is, the slower it should be smoked. Thinner cigars can overheat easier than larger ring gauge cigars.

DO: Keep the cigar cutter sanitary. If the cap of the cigar has been in your mouth, don’t borrow another’s cutter. This is similar to touching the cigar foot to your nose. It’s just a sanitary issue. Don’t wet the cap of a cigar before cutting, especially if you are using a community cutter or borrowing a friend’s.

DON’T: Stub out a cigar like a cigarette. When you are finished just set it in an ashtray and it will go out on its own.

DO: Bring some cigars to share if you are going to be smoking in a public setting. Cigars are always more enjoyable when in the company of others who are also enjoying cigars. Cigar smoking is a very social endeavor. Most cigar smokers are generous to a fault. One of the wonderful things that I have experienced over the years in the cigar world is the camaraderie between the cigar enthusiasts.

DO: Experiment with pairings. Half the fun of cigar smoking is finding pairings that enhance your enjoyment of cigars. Spirits, coffee, chocolate, soda, are all great possible enhancements to sample. Note: I have found that club soda is an excellent palate cleanser prior to smoking a new cigar. However, stay away from tonic water that contains quinine. It will impart a very bitter taste on your cigar.