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How do cigars make you feel? My experience as a cigar smoker

Man smoking a cigar in a newsboy cap outside.
Tim Mossholder / Pexels

Most enthusiasts and cigar lovers smoke for more than just the appearance. In other words, it’s not about looking cool or suave but about the experience itself. Smoking a good cigar is flavorful, pleasurable, and relaxing, and, on occasion, may even make you feel light-headed or give you a slight buzz — although it’s nothing like drinking or imbibing other common substances. For someone who’s never smoked before or is interested in getting into the hobby, wondering just how cigars make you feel is a valid concern. What can you expect, and what is it about cigars that change the experience for better or worse?

How does a cigar make you feel?

A stylish man drinking whiskey and smoking a cigar.
Cigars

For the most part, a cigar experience is pleasurable and relaxing, but nothing more. You don’t smoke to feel something, so it’s not like drinking alcohol or taking other substances in the sense that you’re doing it to chase a particular feeling. If you like drinking for the taste or the flavors, that’s the best comparison to smoking a cigar. A good cigar will be aromatic but also leaves a lot of nuanced flavor on your tongue and, if you retro-hale, in your nostrils. You’ll get hints of chocolate, coffee, leather, spice, and maybe even some sweet tones like fruit. It depends on the cigar and the blend.

It’s always enjoyable to pair a good cigar with a cold or sweet beverage. Some love to pair their cigars with whiskey, scotch, bourbon, and other hard liquors. Cigars are also great with various beers and lagers. But if you’re not a big drinker, sweet sodas like Cola or Pepsi, juice, and other beverages work just fine.

Now, some cigars can actually make you feel a little buzzed or light-headed if you’re new to the experience. That comes directly from the nicotine content in the cigar, a prominent chemical found in tobacco. Since cigars have a much higher concentration of nicotine than other forms of tobacco, like cigarettes, they can provide a more potent feeling. Moreover, since cigars are meant to be savored over a longer period, the effects of a cigar buzz tend to last longer naturally before even taking into account how much nicotine is in your average cigar.

How long does the buzz last?

Close-up of a man smoking a cigar.
Genevieve Poblano / The Manual

When it happens, the buzz can last anywhere from a half hour to two hours, depending on the amount of nicotine, your tolerance levels, and how long it takes to consume the cigar. Similar to alcohol, it can last longer if you haven’t eaten anything recently or if you’re not drinking a sweet beverage with your cigar.

Inhaling the cigar smoke will almost certainly make you sick, but you shouldn’t be doing that anyway. Some beginners may also dislike the experience of smoking, which can leave you feeling green or sick.

Are cigars addictive?

how to smoke a cigar
Genevieve Poblano / The Manual

According to many peer-reviewed studies, cigars are considered to be addictive.

While various agencies are quick to point out that cigars are addictive because of nicotine and other chemicals, as someone with an addictive personality, I have not found that to be the case. In talking with other cigar smokers and enthusiasts in the community, I discovered that many feel the same way. Unlike cigarettes, there is no immediate craving associated with cigars besides just wanting to relax and have a good one — although studies certainly claim otherwise. You don’t feel a desire to get “a fix” that must be assuaged. And while there is more nicotine in a cigar — studies say there’s more nicotine than a full pack of cigarettes in a single cigar — many will smoke one, and that’s it. Cigars take over an hour to smoke, and most don’t sit around all day or night smoking one after another. The exception is with cigarillos, which are smaller, thinner cigars that are closer to a cigarette and don’t take long to burn through.

That doesn’t mean cigars cannot be addictive. Like most vices, sure, they can be, and they’re certainly not a good alternative to other forms of tobacco if you’re trying to kick a habit. If you’re prone to addictive behaviors, be mindful of that and make choices in your own best interest. If you have lung issues or asthma, I would not recommend smoking cigars or any tobacco for that matter.

But the feeling is very much, “I love a good cigar,” or “It would be great to have a cigar,” versus “I need a smoke now.” It’s disingenuous to see claims that they are extremely addictive when many cigar smokers go days, weeks, or even months before having another.

I don’t smoke because I crave a cigar or the tobacco or even the feeling; I smoke because I enjoy the flavors and experience. That’s it.

However, there are other health effects associated with cigars that you should be aware of, like an increased risk for certain cancers, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, gum disease, and even coronary heart disease. That’s why there’s a Surgeon General’s warning on all tobacco products, including cigars.

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