All handmade cigars need to be cut at the closed end before they can be smoked. Just how you do this is up to you. There are a number of cutters on the market ranging from small, cheap, easily portable guillotines (which come in single or double blade versions, the latter being the best); to fancy cigar scissors which need some skill to use properly. You can also use a sharp (which is essentially) knife. Or, if you use your fingernails, you just pinch off the very top of the cap.The important thing is that the cut should be clean and level; otherwise, you will have difficulties with draw and risk damaging the wrapper. You should cut the cigar so that you leave about 1/8 inch of the cap. Piercing the cap isn't recommended: it interferes with the passage of smoke by compressing the filler, and will make the cigar overheat, leading to an unpleasant flavor. Cutters which make a wedge shape in the cap aren't recommended for the same reason. You should never cut a cigar on or below cap level: it is a likely way of ruining the wrapper. The idea is to take off just enough of the cap to expose the filler leaves. And, whatever you use, make sure it is sharp.
When you light a cigar you can use a butane lighter (though not a gasoline lighter, which will impair the flavor) or a match. There are special long slow-burning matches designed for cigar smokers available from high quality shops such as Dunhill or Davidoff, but a normal wooden match will do perfectly well. You should, however, avoid matches with a high sulfur or wax content. A properly lit cigar is always more enjoyable than one that isn't, so take it easy when you light one.
1) Hold the cigar horizontally, in direct contact with the flame, slowly revolving it until the end is charred evenly over its entire surface.
2) Now you put the cigar between your lips, hold the flame about half an inch away from the end and draw slowly while turning it. The end of the cigar should now ignite. Make sure it is evenly lit; otherwise, one side will burn faster than the other.
3) Gently blow on the glowing end to make sure that it is burning evenly.
Older, well-matured cigars burn more easily than younger ones. If properly lit, the highest quality cigars have only a very narrow carbon rim at the lit end; mediocre cigars will have a thicker band.
To get the best out of them, cigars should be smoked slowly. They should not be dragged on or puffed too frequently. This will lead to overheating and spoil the flavor. Nor should the smoke (it hardly needs saying) be inhaled. The strong alkaline smoke and low nicotine content means that you will probably cough in reaction. A cigar like a corona will take about half an hour to smoke, with larger cigars taking an hour or more.
If your cigar goes out, don't worry: this is quite normal, particularly if you have already smoked half of it. Tap the cigar to remove any clinging ash. Then blow through the cigar to clear any stale smoke. Re-light as you would a new cigar. You should have a satisfactory smoke even if you leave the cigar for a couple of hours. Left much longer than that, it will taste stale, although a large ring gauge cigar smoked less than halfway down will still be smokable, if not so enjoyable, the following day.
Cigars, unlike cigarettes, don't need to be tapped to remove the ash. It should fall off in due course. There is, on the other hand, no virtue in keeping a long cylinder of ash at the end of your cigar just because it is there, as it impairs the passage of air and will make the cigar burn unevenly. The better the construction of the cigar, the longer and more solid the ash cylinder will be.
Once the cigar starts producing hot smoke and you get a strong aftertaste (usually when you are down to the last couple of inches), it is time to abandon it. As the French actor Sacha Guitry wrote: If the birth of a genius resembles that of an idiot, the end of a Havana Corona resembles that of a five-cent cigar It isn't necessary to stub out a cigar as you would a cigarette. Just leave it in the ashtray, and it will go out soon enough. Cigar stubs should be disposed of soon after they have gone out; otherwise, the room will acquire the lingering smell of stale smoke.
There are two things that really should not be done: first, don't roll a cigar near your ear. This is contemptuously known as listening to the band in the cigar trade. It tells you nothing at all about the cigar; second, you should never warm the length of the cigar before smoking it. This was originally done in order to burn off the rather unpleasant gum used to make some Seville cigars well over a hundred years ago. It is not necessary with today's high-quality handmade cigars, as they use a mere drop of flavorless, odorless vegetable gum.