Cigar Etiquette

In 1967 Zino Davidoff outlined a protocol for smokers in his noted essay for connoisseurs. It is a charter and code for cigar smokers everywhere, and it remains as valid today as when he first wrote it. Among his directives were the following dos and don’ts:


  • Use a penknife to cut or a lance to pierce the end of the cigar.
  • Touch the flame directly to the foot of the cigar: Instead simply rotate it around the edge till it starts to burn, then puff lightly.
  • Ask someone else for a light (‘The lighting of a cigar should be a personal affair’).
  • Light your cigar too quickly or too slowly.
  • Indulge in exhibitionism in lighting or any other aspect of smoking.
  • Relight your cigar if less than one quarter of it is leaf.
  • Put the cigar in your mouth to relight it.
  • Just scrape off the ash and turn it in the flame for several seconds till it relights.
  • Clench it between your teeth.
  • Get the end of the cigar wet, chew It, slobber on it.
  • Smoke too quickly.
  • Use a cigar holder.
  • Stick a toothpick or matchstick in the end of the cigar to help hold it in your mouth.
  • Dunk your cigar in port or brandy, a habit attributed to Winston Churchill.
  • Smoke while working.
  • Smoke when you’re walking.
  • Smoke more than half the cigar.
  • Put the cigar out by crushing it in an ashtray.
  • Chain-smoke cigars.


  • Warm the foot of the cigar slightly before starting to puff on it.
  • Remove the band carefully after lighting the cigar.
  • Take your time smoking it; a puff a minute is about right.
  • Hold the cigar between your index finger and thumb.
  • Let the cigar die a dignified death; after it’s smoked halfway, it will go out on its own.
  • Dispose of the dead cigar discreetly and quickly.
  • Wait at least fifteen minutes between cigars; anything less indicates obsessive behaviour.

The important thing to remember is that we cigar aficionados should present ourselves as considerate and understanding individuals. Changing people’s preconceived notions and giving the growing numbers of aficionados a good name is well worth that little extra effort.

4 Comments Cigar Etiquette


    Interesting to read the Cigar Etiquette don’ts listed above; particularily, “Don’t hold a cigar between your index and middle finger.” Has young Mitchell looked at his photo on this page and seen his finger grip?

  2. Steve Rawlings

    Why never smoke a cigar when walking, I love nothing better than taking my dogs for a walk along the river and enjoying a great cigar!!

  3. Robin

    “Walking” is a joy; I particularly like along canal paths, looking around the ancient remains of Roman Chester slowly enjoying a perfect fresh Cuban Cigar from my local stockist. When the weather is right I do a drive that lasts 1hr 15m so a nice robusto cigar is ideal with the roof back and the windows down at 50mph:

  4. Arthur

    Must admit I prefer to have a cigar whilst seated and not walking or moving around. Perhaps I make a ritual out of it but I want to sit down, have little distraction and focus on the pleasure of my cigar and smoking – like fine dining. Surely if you are walking around you can be distracted and also any breeze shortens the smoking time?

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