What is a Cigar?

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Many people ask us what is a cigar and how it differs from a cigarette. Cigars are a natural product made exclusively from tobacco. A cigar consists of three parts: Wrapper, binder, and filler. This is our short and precise definition. 

If you are a novice smoker, after gaining some experience, you can give your very own answer to what are cigars for you.

Cigar Types

Three cigar types available in the United States are large cigars (premium cigars), cigarillos (small cigars), and little cigars (brown cigarettes).

Large cigars - contain about a half ounce of tobacco. It takes an hour or two to smoke one.

Cigarillos - three to four inches long narrow cigars that don’t include filters.

Little cigars - are the same size as cigarettes and include filters.

What is in a Cigar?

cigar anatomy

As we have already mentioned, all cigar parts are made of tobacco. The different parts of the cigar are made from different parts of the tobacco plant. You can learn more about the anatomy of the cigar in our cigar guide.

Cigar wrapper leaves come from the lower parts of the plant, Seco tobacco. Wrapper leaves determine the cigar’s appearance and are therefore grown with great care by growers to achieve the right size, appearance, and flavor. The final color is due to aging and fermentation. It varies from light brown to dark brown with green nuances. 

The binder holds the filler in place, gives the cigar its shape, and is the basis for the wrapper, onto which it is rolled. It is made from Seco and Volado primings. The binder tobacco burns well. 

The filler is the other part that contributes the most to the flavor of the cigar. It makes the cigar strong or mild, more or less aromatic. Here are the most tobacco leaves used. The types of tobacco used for the filler are Vido, Volado, Seco, and Ligero. If all the leaves come from the same country of origin, the cigar is called Puro. When tobaccos from different countries are used, it is a complex blend. Filler tobaccos are long fillers, which are made from whole leaves, and short fillers, which are made from chopped leaves. 

Cigar vs. Cigarette - Difference & Comparison

Cigars Cigarettes
Cost From $2 and up per cigar About $7.50 per pack of 20 cigarettes
Nicotine content Up to 100 to 200 milligrams per cigar. About 8 milligrams. Nicotine uptake in the bloodstream is higher because the smoke travels to the lungs
Filter No Yes
Weight 5 to 15 grams Approximately 1 gram
Time smoking About an hour or two About five minutes
Do you inhale the smoke No Yes
Secondhand smoke Yes Yes


According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing a 2021 study, the share of various cigar products in the U.S. market for 2016-2020 is: 2.7% large cigars, 94.2% cigarillos, and 3.1% little cigars.

Rich people tend to use large cigars. 69.3% of large cigar smokers have an income of more than $50,000. This is the group where are most cigarillos smokers: 45.5% of smokers. Little cigars are mostly preferred by smokers with less than $25,000.

3.5% of all adults, or about 8.6 million adults aged 18 years and older in the United States, have smoked cigars, according to a 2020 study. 6.3% of adult men and 0.8% of adult women have tried cigar smoking. Among different ethnicities, cigar smoking rates were 4.6% for non-Hispanic black adults, 3.8% for non-Hispanic white adults, 2.2% for Hispanic adults, and 0.9% for non-Hispanic Asian adults.

The National Youth Tobacco Survey indicates that 2.1% or 310,000 of students in grades 9-12 smoked cigars (1.5% of females and 2.6% of males)
. The same study states that 0.6% of middle school students have smoked cigars (0.5% of females and 0.6% of males).


Why are cigars considered a status symbol?

Cigars are expensive and a stick can cost as much as a whole pack of cigarettes. Therefore, they are not available to everyone. People used to buy them by the box, but today you can buy one or a few of each.

Their exclusivity made them attractive to the rich and famous, but also to artists who valued the time of contemplation that fed their inspiration and creative process. Thus, cigars became part of popular culture as part of symbols representing high social status.


What is the Point of Smoking a Cigar?

The idea of cigar smoking is the ritual of the smoking session. The smoking experience means taking a moment to slow down and relax. The relaxing effect comes from the nicotine.

Are Cigars 100% Tobacco?

Premium cigars and most cigarillos are made from 100% tobacco, except for bands and adhesives, which are not made from tobacco.

Why are Cigars Expensive?

Cigars are expensive compared to cigarettes because a lot of handwork is required to make premium cigars. Some expensive cigars are considered investment items. These are cigars from premium brands, boutique tobacco blends, or vintage cigars.

Do you Inhale a cigar?

No, you should inhale the cigar smoke. This will not add to your smoking experience. Inhaling may make you nauseous, cough, or both.