How Far Down Should a Cigar be Smoked?

Jeff Miller
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When to Stop

One of the first things that teach you as a cigar smoker is to smoke it to the band. This is less of a rule and more of a suggestion since, more often than not, smokers will remove the band. You’ll notice that some retailers only sell cigars with bands on. As mentioned, the band usually sticks easiest toward the middle of the cigar. Once you get the band removed, you don’t have to worry about it anymore … or so you would think. There’s really no right or wrong time to stop smoking a cigar.

Wasteful Smoking

We all know that smoking is expensive so you’d think that no smoker would ever waste their precious cigars by stubbing them out early. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Smokers tend to smoke a cigar two ways – down and up. If they smoke it down, they are able to enjoy the entire flavor of the cigar and appreciate all it has to offer. If they smoke it up, they will have to relight their cigar, taste less of the flavor, and generally just not get to enjoy a good smoke.

The problem is, many people typically smoke a cigar down but relight it for the second half. This is a huge waste and makes smoking an expensive hobby.

There was a study done that found that approximately 65% of participants at least partially smoked their cigar but that on average only 18% smoked it as they would a full cigar. The distractions that were given as reasons for smoking a cigar prematurely ranged from responsibilities to watering plants!

When to Toss it

There is no hard and fast rule about when a cigar should be thrown away. Many people will tell you to toss after the first inch, but that doesn’t apply to everyone. Smokers who have a powerful draw, a low tolerance for nicotine, or use a cigarette holder may only get through half an inch or even less.

If you are smoking a cigar that you purchased from a reputable retailer, there is little chance of it being compromised beyond repair. Many boutique cigar shops let you purchase by the stick, and I can guarantee that the retailers keep a close eye on the moisture and draw. Another reason for freshness is that the smoothness and texture of a premium cigar will continue to improve until it’s lit.

Cigars go stale because the oils evaporate, so the optimal storage environment is in a cool, dry place like a humidor. Humidors are a great way to store cigars, but they are not airtight. After your cigars are inside the humidor for a few days, smell them. If there is no caustic or disturbing aroma, you’re probably in good shape to at least try out.

Final Thoughts

This last third is the culmination of all that has occurred before it. You have reached the homestretch of the cigar. You have already experienced the light, the vanilla, the spice, the peppers, the creaminess and so much more.

But just because you have reached the final third does not mean the cigar is completely finished. You have reached the point of no return. This is the point where you have endured the burn going both ways. You have endured the flavor becoming a bit bitter but enough flavor that you are still enjoying it. This is the last third where the cigar is nearly complete.

This is the final point where you can enjoy the flavor of the cigar without your palate becoming desensitized to the taste of the cigar. While you can smoke a cigar to the nub, to me that defeats the purpose of enjoying it. Settling last third and not reaching the nub is the mark of an experienced smoker.

Once you have reached the final third of the cigar, you will need to think long and hard about when you want to put it out. You spent the time building the ash. You want to make sure you enjoy every last second.