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Cigars vs. Cigarettes

Cigars vs. Cigarettes – Many people view them as the same, but there are many drastic differences.

There’s been a lingering question out there when it comes to smoking, and it’s in making the distinction between premium cigars and cigarettes. The question has bubbled to the surface again in the face of pending FDA cigar regulations, many of which are modeled after regulations already in place for cigarettes. The folks pushing for these regulations frequently take the viewpoint that tobacco is the same in any form, therefore, they feel regulations should be uniform as well. This thought-process leads us back to our original question – what are the differences of cigars vs. cigarettes? The answers, unsurprisingly, run as wide a range as the number of people who you might ask for guidance. But today, we’re going to draw some major differences between premium cigars and cigarettes – and I got nominated, since I’ve had my fair share of both. I’m not afraid to admit it – I was a cigarette smoker for many moons, and many Marlboros; today, I smoke cigars exclusively. But let’s be clear – smoking, isn’t just smoking.

Why I smoke…

Your mileage may vary – but chances are, you and I are a lot alike if you’ve smoked cigarettes or premium cigars. We smoke cigarettes to get a buzz, keep us awake, deal with jittery nerves, or – let’s admit it – because of addiction. There, I said it. Cigarette smokers are addicted to the however many thousands of chemicals (many of them NOT a natural component of tobacco or its smoke) in cigarettes. How do I know I was addicted? It was hell quitting. That’s a sign.

I smoke premium cigars exclusively today, because I enjoy it – not because I have to have something to tame the nicotine monster every 45 minutes. Do cigars have nicotine? Sure – and that brings us to the act of smoking itself. I know, I know – all you folks who say smoking in any form is just straight-up unhealthy and offensive to anyone and everyone within 100 miles of me and my cigar. Do you say the same thing about medicinal marijuana? Does taking in weed for medicinal benefit, through the act of smoking it, make it less of a medicinal treatment in your eyes? It’s interesting how that part of the argument gets overlooked so often…

Cigars vs. Cigarettes – Construction

The anti-tobacco powers-that-be themselves acknowledge there’s a difference between premium cigars and cigarettes, even though they’re bound and determined to treat them the exact same way for the purposes of revenue collection. According to the .gov folks, cigarettes are uniform in their construction, made from tobaccos that are never fermented and rolled in paper; premium cigars are composed only of tobacco (filler, wrapper and all) – and can vary in size and shape. Cigarettes are machine made from cheaper, low-grade tobacco; let’s not even dip our collective toe into the pool of chemicals that are added to cigarettes, shall we? Premium cigars, on the other hand, are a hand made product – 100% natural, fermented tobacco and manufactured under strict quality control.

Does this guy look like he’s smoking that cigar because he’s addicted, or because he’s enjoying the flavors in a moment of celebration?

Cigars vs. Cigarettes – The Act

Lighting up? If your smoke is a cigarette, you’re supposed to take a big, deep inhale to get all those chemicals flowing into your bloodstream. Cigars? A shallow puff or two to take the smoke into your mouth, roll it around your palate to taste the flavors and exhale. And that’s one of the biggest keys – taste the flavors. The same way you might savor the finish of a bite of steak, or a glass of wine…something I certainly couldn’t do when I smoked cigarettes. Cigarette smoking blew out my taste buds. I didn’t have a sense of smell for six months, even after I quit. Now, I actually can taste things again – not only in my premium cigars, but food, drinks and the flavors in them. Did I mention I can run up a flight of stairs without being out of breath, too?

This is because cigars are constructed of premium quality tobacco – often, several different kinds for the wrapper and underlying components, each chosen to create a sense of body and flavor that isn’t unlike the process winemakers go through when experimenting with varietals. Cigar tobacco is aged under specific conditions, and has a variety of flavors depending upon aging, country of origin, and more. You’ll also notice the word “aroma” being used in conjunction with premium cigars…why not cigarettes? Because not many people develop an appreciation for the sensation delivered by a raging tire fire with a Camel logo on it.

Cigars vs. Cigarettes – The Other Stuff

cigars vs. cigarettes
The not-so-pretty aftermath of chain smoking cigarettes

Premium cigars are meant to be savored, with a long smoke time, as opposed to cigarettes – which burn faster. Let’s just say you’re smoking a cigar for the experience…the relaxation…the ability of a group of friends to get together and share a smoke and some good times. I’d be so bold as to say that you smoke cigarettes to survive the cravings from one to the next. I know. I’ve been there.

So next time someone asks you, tell them “it’s time to clear the air” – there are many large differences in the breakdown of premium cigars vs. cigarettes.

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David P Diaz
David P Diaz

See also, The Critical Difference: Premium Cigars vs. Cigarettes.

Matt Tuck
Matt Tuck

I smoked cigarettes briefly when I was in the service & out later, it was never consistent at all, I’d take over a year to smoke a whole pack & by then, it wasn’t good anymore. I never liked cigarettes at all. My family has a history of cigarette smokers (mom, 2 of my brothers too) & we grew up for a few years around the 2nd hand smoke which really bugged me too. I started buying cigars that are hand rolled from usually the Dominican Republican area that are shipped here to the U.S. about 2-3yrs ago. Since then,… Read more »

John Nicholas
John Nicholas

I quit smoking in 1997. Pipes and Cigars were always something I was interested in and I told myself, as I got closer to retirement from the military and older, I would maybe get into something like this. The pairing of Pipes and Cigars with bourbons, rums, and scotch was intriguing and pulled at my interest. While deployed to the middle east last year, I decided to try my hand at it and have since gotten a great deal of satisfaction and knowledge from participating in smoking cigars. It is relaxing and I can go weeks or months without one,… Read more »


I could not notice the date of this. So that being the case. Has anything changed regarding your current knowledge of cigars.

Sam Li

I like what you said about cigars and how shallow puffs fill your mouth with smoke. When it comes to chewing or smoking tobacco, it’s important to buy a quality product. My friend wants to buy some wholesale tobacco, so I’ll help him find a reliable business to work with.


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I just got a Colombian cigar straight form Cuba and tore it apart to make a cigarette. Come and find me

John Pullo

John Pullo

Editor in Chief

This is not his picture, nor does he even have a beard. A solid 'B' student and occasional low-fi musician, John is a medley of cynicism and sarcasm crammed into a wrinkled Oxford shirt who makes it nearly intolerable to watch reality television with him in the same room. Interestingly, his Social Security number is all ones.

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