Tips for Inculturating New Cigar Smokers

Help those who are new to cigars to enjoy their first experiences.

We all remember the first time we tried a cigar, right? How we felt like a duck out of water about things like cigar selection, cutting, lighting, etc? Now that we’ve grown in our habits, we should help those who are enjoying cigars for the first time to appreciate the experience instead of being frustrated by their lack of practical knowledge. Touching on my comments in Podcast 39, I recommend the following 10 tips:

  • Provide a cigar, or give recommendations about where to buy a cigar and what to buy in terms of size, price point and wrapper.
  • Don’t make the new smoker feel stupid. It’s not cool to laugh at the person who doesn’t know how to ash correctly or nearly burns off a finger with his torch.
  • Let them know it’s OK not to finish. Many cigars will kick the ass of a virgin smoker — so if the person only gets through a third of the stick, so be it. Make sure the smoker knows that there’s no shame in ending early.
  • Demonstrate cutting or punching. It’s not intuitive, so provide some quick guidance about the right way to cut or punch. Demonstrate!
  • Give tips on lighting and ashing. Again, these aren’t intuitive skills, so offering advice will help.
  • Provide plenty of ashtrays. Make ashing convenient!
  • Talk about the cigar. Discuss the terms related to cigars, and explain aspects of construction or burning or tobacco history. Keep the new smoker engaged in the stick.
  • Ventilate the smoking area. Experienced smokers often appreciate — or at least tolerate — a blue haze, but it takes a while to build up tolerance for most people, especially those who have no cigarette smoking history.
  • Provide snacks to help with the nicotine. Cigars offer a large nic hit, so provide sweets to help with the blood-sugar dip. Getting stick to your stomach doesn’t necessarily make new smokers want to make a return trip to the humidor.
  • Ask questions about the guest’s enjoyment. Gauge the new smoker’s enjoyment and be prepared to intervene to ensure that the experience doesn’t turn sour.

Remember — the club of cigar smokers is small, so do your part to help our new initiates feel welcome.

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About jason

Jason is the principal of Gillikin Consulting, a business-media and ethics consultancy based in Grand Rapids, Mich.