How to Avoid 'Cigar Sickness'

Smoking a cigar properly can reduce the risk of short-term Illness

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"Cigar sickness" is a rare event for an experienced cigar smoker and a condition that is not related to the major illnesses, such as cancer, that have been attributed to smoking tobacco products. New cigar smokers can reduce their chance of getting sick by following advice on how to properly smoke a cigar.

What Is in a Cigar?

All cigars contain nicotine as well as other natural substances, but machine-made cigars also contain chemical preservatives. If you smoke handmade cigars, then you are smoking 100 percent tobacco. However, unless the tobacco was grown organically, it is possible that residue from pesticides has not dissipated if the cigar was not aged long enough. To reduce your chances of getting sick, avoid machine-made cigars and make sure that cheaper handmade bundled cigars have spent time in your humidor, a specially designed box intended to keep cigars at an ideal temperature and humidity, before you smoke them.

How to Avoid Getting Sick

There is anecdotal evidence that it is possible to get sick from smoking a cigar that is just too strong. The symptoms are nausea, dizziness, and sweating, akin to a mild case of sea sickness. If this happens to you, stop smoking the cigar immediately, drink some water, and eat something sweet. A sugar cube or other form of pure sugar works best, but candy or anything sweet will help (unless you are diabetic). Relaxing also helps, and you might not fully recover until you eat something.

You might consider not smoking the same line of cigars that caused the illness, at least for some time, but cigar sickness is not a reason to give up smoking cigars. Remember, cigar sickness is a rare event that most cigar smokers have never experienced.

Advice for Beginning Smokers

If you are a beginner and are not allergic to tobacco, you should be able to avoid cigar sickness altogether by following this advice:

  • Do not inhale or swallow cigar smoke. Puff on the cigar and blow the smoke out of your mouth.
  • Do not smoke too fast. Puff on your cigar no more than one or two times per minute.
  • Do not draw too hard on your cigar. If a cigar is packed too tightly or is partially plugged, try another cigar.
  • Do not smoke strong cigars. (Mild cigars, by the way, are less expensive.) Beginners should select mild to medium cigars. Ask your tobacconist for suggestions, read reviews and recommendations, and/or select cigars made with Connecticut Shade wrappers and mild Dominican filler tobaccos.
  • For some people, eating before smoking can reduce the chance of getting sick, as well as drinking a beverage while smoking a cigar. Enjoying a beverage while you smoke is a good way to enhance the cigar-smoking experience anyway. Coffee drinks, port, scotch, brandy, and most drinks made with coffee liqueurs, such as Kahlua and Tia Maria, can accompany any cigar without being overpowered by its flavor.