Cigar Smoker OCD Habits Revealed!
By Gary Korb
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations (obsessions) and engage in behaviors or mental acts in response to these thoughts or obsessions. . . [Some] people with OCD engage in repetitive behaviors or mental acts such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items (hoarding), or repeating the same steps to any task again and again.” – Psychology Today
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Have you ever really noticed how you hold your cigar, how you light it, or even the way you stack the cigars in your humidor? Probably not, since these have become common routines that you do almost unconsciously out of habit. But let’s say one of the things you do is to always make sure that the front of the band on your cigar is facing straight-up when you light it; or you always place the cigars in your humidor by size from tallest to shortest; or your cigar-smoking ritual always entails smoking your cigar in the same place, at the same time, in the same chair, and with the same drink. Oh yes, my cigar-loving amigos – the key word is “always.” When you always do things like that, you’re exhibiting a semblance of OCD. To be clear, I don’t mean OCD in the strict clinical definition above, but whatever your cigar-related eccentricities are, the cycle probably isn’t going to break unless some unforeseen circumstance causes it to.
I think every avid smoker acquires a little “cigar smoker OCD” when it comes to their precious primos. I believe this comes from things we covet. For example, you’ve probably known someone who was gonzo over their car, their record collection (for those of us old enough to still have vinyl records), their tools, or their sports paraphernalia. Such behavior tends to be more evident for the things we collect: baseball cards, antique guns, vintage wines, first edition books, toys, figurines, autographs, video games, and of course, imported handmade cigars.
Some of the things we cigar smokers do repeatedly aren’t so much unusual as they are routine habits, like always making the same type of cut on your cigar, using the same kind of lighter, or removing the cellos from your cigars before putting them in your humidor. But what if after you remove the cellos, you then place a white, homemade cigar band around the foot of each cigar written with the date you purchased it?
So, what are some of the other “OCD-like” traits cigar smokers foster once they’ve been bitten by the cigar-smoking bug? I reached out to a number of cigar smokers on this subject who told me about the quirky habits they’ve developed. Some may surprise you, and you may even relate to a few of them.
Cigar Storage OCD
A lot of cigar smoker OCD is related to storing cigars. Take me, for example: I tend to like things that are ordered, so when I add cigars to my humidor I place them inside by length. The longest cigars start at one end and go shorter from there. Even when stacking them in rows, long cigars must go on top of long cigars, medium on top of medium, and short on top of short:
Also, the labels always have to be facing up. I think a lot of cigar smokers do this, but I like to see what’s in my humidor when I open the lid. I’ll even work down row-by-row to make sure all of the labels are facing up. Now that may be a little obsessive-compulsive, but it also comes from me believing that’s the way they should be. Of course, there are no rules for such things – that’s just me.
“I put my cigars in the humidor by brand and ring-size.” said Jim. If a cigar was a gift, I put a label around the cigar with the name of the person and the date it was given. If I buy a box of cigars, I put the box date information and the date the cigars were purchased on the labels.” Here’s some of his cigar smoker OCD in action:
Jim even told me about a friend of his who stores his cigars by wrapper shade ranging from the darkest to lightest in color.
Kevin told me he stores his cigars by premium and everyday cigars first, then by wrapper or brand. “Right now, I’m on a Broadleaf wrapper kick, so I’m keeping all of those cigars together in their own section of the humidor,” added Kevin.
José, who likes to keeps his cigars at different humidity levels said, “I keep my full-bodied cigars stored at 65%-67%, and the lighter cigars stored at 70%.” (That’s actually very good advice.)
“We monitor the temperature and humidity digitally and manually on an hourly basis,” says Alan, who admits to being “OCD” about the cigars in his company’s walk-in humidor.
“If I intend to smoke a cigar in the next few days, I will leave the cello on the cigar,” said Rafael. “If I plan on keeping it for an extended period of time, I remove the cello.”
John’s cigar smoker OCD has resulted in what he calls an “artificial ranking system” for his five-drawer humidor. “The bottom drawer is for my ‘yard gars,’ the ones I smoke when I’m cutting the grass or blowing leaves. The fourth drawer is for private labels and special cigars I’ve brought back from trips to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The third drawer has a bunch of leftover ‘It’s A Girl’ cigars from when my daughter was born. Above that are the higher quality cigars I reserve for relaxing with on weekends, and the top drawer literally has ‘top-drawer’ smokes like rare Davidoffs, Montecristos, Partagas, Opus X and the like for special occasions.”
Cutting & Lighting OCD
When it comes to cutting and lighting cigars, I’m not that compulsive, but when I cut the cap, I almost always use a double guillotine and I let the blades do the work. I set the blades against the cap, and rather than chopping through it, I apply pressure to the blades as I turn the cigar, which causes the cap to almost “pop” off in a perfect circle. For lighting, I prefer a twin torch cigar lighter, but I will rotate through all of my lighters so they get equal use over time.
Fred says, “When I cut my cigar, I do so in such a way that it must be perfectly straight across the head, never angled.”
Rafael also likes a straight cut. He says, “It offers a better flow of flavors. But depending on the wrapper, I will cut the cigar at an angle for a better accumulation of flavors.”
“I prefer a soft flame over a torch for lighting my cigars,” said José. Actually, there are a lot of cigar smokers who prefer the lower temperature of a soft, match-type flame, especially when toasting their cigars.
Then there was this cigar smoker OCD nugget from Jim: “I never relight a cigar if it’s been out for more than 10 minutes.” Jim also told me that his cutters are organized on a tray by cutter type, and his lighters by flame quantity and the height of each lighter.
Cigar Smoking OCD
The act of smoking a cigar can also lead to some interesting habits. I always turn the cigar while I’m puffing on it in the direction of the wrapper’s seams because it helps keep the cigar from unraveling, but here again, it has more to do with symmetry.
Oliver says, “I always have the cigar band facing upwards when I light a cigar.” Peter, who has a similar habit said, “I always show the front of the band while I’m holding my cigar.” Like this:
“I purge through the cigar every time I take multiple draws on it,” says Kevin, “but not when I take a single draw.”
Then there’s the act of ashing cigars. If the ash is long enough, I always try to shape it into a cone by turning it against the wall of the ashtray.
“I have an uncontrollable urge to tap my ash after every puff and shape it, too,” says Erol. “Plus, I’m always retouching the ash to keep an even burn, even when the cigar is burning well.”
Peter told me that he likes to push his ashes “into nicely formed columns in the ashtray,” while Tommy says, “First, I tap the ash, then tap the tip of the cigar down into the ashtray so it burns squared-off, because I like a flat ash instead of a conical tip.”
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Finally, there was this from Arthur in California: “My compulsion is the uncontrollable desire to possess cigars. I call it CAS, or ‘Cigar Acquisition Syndrome.’ When I’ve smoked a cigar I really liked, I scour the internet to find the best price and then I MUST buy a box. It’s something I’ve tried to control, but it’s just no use. I need professional help! I literally have no more room in my humidor and the boxes are stacking up on the floor.”
Now, there’s a compulsion cigar store owners would like to see a lot more of.
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