Why Smoke Cigars

The real question might be—why wouldn’t you?

By Chuck Holland


Welcome to the fascinating world of cigar smoking! Before we start the journey in earnest, let’s examine the reasons why so many people find cigar smoking such a pleasurable pastime.

Perhaps the most common reason for enjoying a cigar is the nearly universal belief that it’s the perfect way to relax. There really is nothing quite like a leisurely smoke to take your mind off everyday concerns. The process of relaxing begins with the realization that your cigar demands time. Cigar smoking cannot be rushed or hurried. No matter what curves life is throwing at you, enjoying a cigar will force you to slow down and unwind.

Relaxing begins as the cigar is prepared for smoking. This involves a close inspection of the cigar, smelling, tasting, and holding it your fingers. That’s followed by selecting the desired cutter and then cutting the cap. Finally, you toast the foot of the cigar with a flame. The whole process can be an elaborate and calming ritual that serious wine lovers also recognize and appreciate. When finished with the preparation, the cigar is ready for smoking.

With the first puffs, life slows down and the day’s concerns begin to fade into the background.

Another popular reason for smoking cigars is the camaraderie shared among those who appreciate the cigar lifestyle. There is certainly nothing wrong with a solitary smoke—in fact, it can be a great way to enjoy a cigar. However, something about sharing the occasion with friends really adds to the enjoyment. What a nice way to spend time—to get together with your smoking buddies to play a friendly game of dominos or retell tales about the your last trip.

There is even a special name for cigar camaraderie and fellowship, and if you spend enough time around cigar smokers you are bound to eventually hear the term—“herf.” Nobody seems to know where or how the word originated, but all agree it has become shorthand for, “let’s get together and enjoy a smoke.” A herf can be anything from an informal affair involving two guys enjoying cigars on a patio, to a formal party with dozens of guests. Herfing is what happens when cigars are fired up with friends after a great day of hunting.

Cigar smokers are a friendly bunch. Cigar smoking seems to be a great equalizer and removes social boundaries. Cigar shops are places where folks from every walk of life can gather for a smoke and enjoy each other’s company. What shops have in common is the cigar lifestyle, it binds us all together. No one cares about life outside the shop; inside it’s all about cigars, sports, politics, and occasionally a delicious single malt. In many ways, cigar shops have taken the place once occupied by barbershops as a neighborhood gathering place where everyone is welcome.

One more reason for smoking cigars—the taste. This may be as important as any. Cigars come in a wide variety of shapes and styles from an amazing number of locations around the world. Not surprising, they are also characterized by an array of flavors. This is much like wines and whiskeys, where one person’s favorite drink is not necessarily another’s. Picking a favorite cigar is determined by an individual’s palate. This process of cigar enjoyment can be an entertaining and never-ending journey, as the cigar market is huge and constantly evolving.

Once you find the perfect cigar or cigars, the flavors become something to look forward to enjoying. That is true whether the cigar is a newly discovered favorite or an old standby that has been around for years. The flavors enhance life’s little pleasures. They make a favorite team’s big win more memorable; they are the perfect complement to a great dinner; and they add to the memories of a special event such as a marriage or the birth of a child.

No doubt there are other reasons for smoking cigars. One that comes to mind is how the perfect pairing of a favorite cigar and libation make both taste better. Keep on herfing!

Michael Eman
Official Contributor
Kevin Gibson is a free-lance writer who writes for numerous publications, including Bourbon+ magazine, Thrillist, and Alcohol Professor.