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Smoking a cigar (or, maybe puffing on a cigar is the more accurate term) is an art unto itself. Like drinking a good Scotch or Bourbon, there’s a ritual to it. Do you inhale cigars? It’s an understandable question because cigars are often associated with cigarettes.
Those who are new to cigar smoking are probably curious as to whether or not inhaling a cigar is a matter of course or something you should avoid entirely. A cigar, a handmade cigar especially, is an altogether different animal than a cigarette.
Cigars are meant to be an act of slow enjoyment. Taking in the best the cigar has to offer over a long period. It’s not like smoking a cigarette when you have a quick bathroom break at work.
Should you Inhale Cigars
There are no circumstances in which you should ever inhale a cigar. Of course, it’s difficult to avoid some level of inhalation, especially in an unventilated room that’s full of cigar smoke. But you shouldn’t actively inhale cigar smoke.
You would be surprised at how much nicotine your body gets out of the tobacco leaves within a cigar. That’s because your mouth does much of the absorption. That’s for the better since puffing a cigar and enjoying the lingering flavor on your palette is the entire point.
Cigar smoke is heavy and thick. Inhaling it isn’t very attractive to most people anyway, largely due to how harsh it is on the lungs. It’s nearly the same as burning green wood on a fire and sticking your head right in the smoke. The only difference between the two is the fuel behind the smoke.
For beginners, puffing a cigar isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially if you’re a habitual cigarette smoker. The initial instinct is to inhale and take in all the smoke. It’s more like using a straw while avoiding expanding your chest. Then, you simply push the smoke back out of your mouth.
A really good cigar doesn’t even need to be puffed but once every minute or so. It’s a relaxation thing.
Effects of Inhaling cigars on the body
The first thing you’ll notice is the heavy, abrasive effect on the lungs, especially if you suck the smoke down quickly. That’s because there are important differences between a cigar and a cigarette.
A cigarette contains chemicals that slow the draw of a cigarette. Without those chemicals, the cigarette would burn too hot and too fast to be enjoyable. You would burn right through one and wreck your lungs in the process.
A cigar is much larger and has no such chemicals to minimize how hot the tobacco leaves burn. The natural tobacco leaves in a cigar burn hotter and produce a lot more smoke than a typical cigarette. If you inhale a cigar, you get a ton of smoke all at once.
Your nicotine high may also be far too intense, and nicotine highs kick in almost instantly. That’s because cigars often contain what is called Ligero tobacco. As we mentioned above, your mouth absorbs a lot of nicotine, and Ligero tobacco improves this process.
In other words, you will get all the nicotine high you could ever want without inhaling the cigar at all.
This is an interesting term you will often hear about when it comes to cigar smokers. It’s the act of passing the smoke from your mouth, into, and out of your nasal cavities. You do this without expanding your diaphragm and taking the smoke into your lungs.
There are several differences between cigars and cigarettes—enough differences to make them almost alien to one another and not as comparable as you might think.
- The wrapping
- Amount and type of tobacco
- Method of smoking
- Speed of consumption
Cigars are either wrapped in a tobacco leaf or in a substance that contains nicotine, much like a tobacco leaf. Cigarettes are wrapped in paper, specially made for burning and nothing more.
The amount and type of tobacco are profoundly different, especially when it comes to amounts. Cigars typically contain a lot more tobacco than cigarettes, and it’s easy to see why with the noticeable size differences.
A cigar can easily contain anywhere between 100mg and 200mg of nicotine as compared to the paltry 10mg to 20mg found in a typical cigarette. Of course, a cigar can take up to two hours to smoke while even a slow-smoking cigarette is done in five minutes.
Cigars are, for the most part, unfiltered, though the wrapping itself does slow down and semi-filter some of the smoke. However, these wrappings are generally dense and to the extent that it filters anything it’s probably negligible at best.
Cigarettes, on the other hand, contain filters. At least they do for the most part. Cigarettes are inhaled, while cigars are slow-burned and puffed either until you put it out or make your way through the entire cigar.
The differences between the two are night and day. Once you understand that it’s like comparing soccer to American football, it’s easier to see why cigars are not generally inhaled, while cigarettes are.
While you can inhale cigars (and you usually will, albeit passively rather than actively), it’s mostly something that is avoided. In terms of cigar smoking etiquette, inhaling one is frowned upon, like watching someone avoid silverware to eat spaghetti with their fingers.
Comparing cigar smoking to cigarette smoking is valid but only on the surface. Once you dig a little deeper, you quickly discover that the two are completely incompatible outside of their shared nicotine and tobacco leaf ingredients.
No matter how you see it, smoking a cigar is a very involved event. It’s simultaneously relaxing and an experience all its own. One thing is for sure, you don’t have to inhale to enjoy the luxury of taste and aroma that can only come from a good cigar.