Cuban Cigars and Cigarettes: 7 Key Differences
A photo captured in Havana, where cigars and drink pairings are always on the menu
PRODUCTION. SOCIETY VIEWS. QUALITY DISTINCTIONS
Products containing tobacco are often bunched together. Categorised as though they are the same. But as aficionados of Cuban cigars, we believe more needs to be said on the key differences between two of the most well-known tobacco products – cigars and cigarettes.
MACHINERY VS. ARTISANSHIP – The biggest Cuban cigar brands craft their cigars from scratch using the skills of expert torcedores. When we visited El Laguito – Home of Cohiba Cigars, we discovered that the process to producing has not changed since the nineteenth century. The only new technology introduced is a suction machine which checks the draw of cigars. Cigarettes meanwhile, are machine-made. Artisanship is a luxury that exhibits quality, speciality and a unique edge – every single cigar will always be somewhat different.
Left: A machine made cigarette, Right: Hand-crafted habanos overlooking tobacco plantations.
"emphasis of Cuban cigars is on flavour"
PAPER VS. LEAF – The tobacco in cigarettes is of low quality and infused with additives, sugars and an assortment of chemicals. Reprocessed pieces are typically used. This non-fermented tobacco is then rolled in paper, tallying to a number of ingredients. Cuban cigars are made purely with leaf tobacco and contain chemicals that naturally occur. Under strict quality regulation, Cuban cigars are made significantly with less processing and without filters.
NICOTINE VS. FLAVOUR – Both tobacco products contain nicotine and thus, we cannot claim that cigars are healthy. With that being said, the emphasis of Cuban cigars is on flavour – the delectable notes of aroma which linger on our taste buds. Whether that’s a Romeo Y Julieta Churchills Cigar tasting of vanilla, chocolate, fruits and cedar, or a Partagas Serie P No. 2 Cigar with leather, pepper and hints of fresh floral notes. With cigarettes, a smoker is arguably more addicted to the nicotine itself – the desire to have their ‘fix’, leading them to smoke quite a few daily. Cigars are more of a past-time smoked on occasion for a celebration or to unwind.
While cigarettes are inhaled and considered more 'addictive', cigars are puffed lightly and enjoyed for a longer period.
"cigars shouldn't be rushed"
INHALING VS. A FEW PUFFS – One of the biggest mistakes a cigar smoker can make is to inhale. This generally leads to an excessive amount of coughing and is deemed as bad etiquette. On our EGM Cigars blog, we routinely share many articles on the correct way to smoke cigars, including our post How to Become a Cuban Cigars Expert. As the pastime is viewed as a way to de-stress and unwind, cigars shouldn’t be rushed, so a leisurely puff or two is all that is necessary. Which brings us to our next point…
5 MINUTES VS. ONE HOUR – Depending on which cigar of course – A Montecristo 80 Aniversario Cigar takes more than double the amount of time to smoke when compared to a Bolivar Petit Coronas Cigar. Either way, a cigar enthusiast doesn’t take out a cigar to light-up on a 10-minute work break. A sufficient amount of time – at least 30 minutes is required. The extra moments spent smoking, add up to a fine appreciation. It’s hard to value a cigarette when it is only between your fingers for a very brief period. They are fleeting – one cigarette is soon forgotten for another.
Left: A closeup of a cigarette which is full of chemical additives, Right: Cuban cigars being enjoyed in Havana with a perfect cocktail drink pairing.
"persistent opening of cigar lounges"
BANNED VS. CELEBRATED – Ever since cigarette laws swept through various countries and forced a ban on public smoking, cigarette smokers have had little choice but to sneak-out and smoke, hidden away and outside whilst standing. Habanos SA sales are increasing rapidly across the world, most recently in China, and this is partly proven in the persistent opening of cigar lounges across the most luxurious hotels. Cuban cigars are viewed as the ultimate luxury, and society is more accommodating. People who don’t smoke at all, are more accepting of cigars than cigarettes. There’s less vilification in the press.
MASS-PRODUCTION VS. LUXURY – There’s a reason why Cuban cigars are opulent, collectable items. They embody the definition of luxury – craftsmanship, tradition and heritage. There are countless brands like Bolivar Cigars and Cohiba Cigars, and within those brands, countless cigar types. Cigarettes may have varying brands and different strengths, though nothing in comparison. A cigarette smoker wouldn’t walk into a shop and showcase a wealth of knowledge – length, ring gauge, flavours, fermentation, as a cigar smoker would.
Our Cuban cigars online are simply timeless. To link with cigarettes, is equivalent to comparing fast-food with a 5* star restaurant – though both enjoyable, completely different.