Immediate Effects of Nicotine On Cigar Smokers

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When cigar smokers light up a new cigar for the first time, they hope to experience an explosion of flavors on their palate that was described by one cigar maker as a "party in your mouth." Just like a food or drink that you have not tasted before, you are not sure exactly what to expect. This is part of the adventure and appeal of sampling a variety of different cigars, hoping to discover a blend of several distinctive flavors that will become your new favorite, at least until your next sampling. This is all that most cigar smokers are looking for, and with the vast majority of cigars on the market, this is exactly what they get. However, there are a few cigars on the market that might provide something more than just new and exciting flavors.

Cigars Contain Varying Amounts of Nicotine

Cigars do contain varying amounts of nicotine. Unlike cigarettes, smoke is not inhaled if cigars are smoked properly. Most cigar smokers are occasional smokers who do not smoke every day. Some smoke only a few cigars per year. Occasional cigar smokers enjoy the taste of premium tobacco smoke on their palate and are not addicts but hobbyists. Just like wine connoisseurs are not automatically considered to be alcoholics, cigar aficionados should not automatically be labeled as individuals with bad habits or addictions. That being said, the effects of nicotine are less of a health concern for occasional cigar smokers than for cigarette smokers because of the manner and the frequency that cigars are smoked.

Nicotine In Cigars Does Have An Effect on Smokers

However, this is not an article about the lower health risks of nicotine on cigar smokers compared to cigarette smokers. Nicotine contained in cigars does have an effect on cigar smokers, and not just cancer and other long-range health risks that are more thoroughly discussed on our smoking cessation site. The main focus of the remainder of this article is on the immediate but temporary nicotine effects that one may notice while smoking cigars, excluding medically measurable fluctuations that are not significantly noticeable or felt while smoking (such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc), nor other possible temporary effects such as coughing, halitosis, etc that may result from other substances contained in cigars or by the smoke itself.

No Nicotine Effects

The level of nicotine in most cigars should not be great enough to produce immediate and significantly noticeable effects in most cigar smokers if the cigar is smoked properly. However, nicotine levels do have some effect on the taste of cigar tobacco, especially the stronger Ligero tobacco leaves from the top of the plant. Aging also affects the taste and level of nicotine, making the flavor more mellow over time as nicotine and other substances dissipate. Nicotine is a necessary "evil" in cigars, and cannot be removed or reduced drastically without adversely affecting flavor. The next three categories classify cigars that contain high enough nicotine levels to produce immediate and noticeable temporary effects, besides the effect on flavor.

Level One Nicotine Effects

A positive side effect that you may notice when smoking a cigar with a higher than normal nicotine content is similar to, but not the same as, the effect produced by caffeine in a weak cup of coffee. Your senses seem to sharpen, your vision becomes clearer, and you might even get a greater feeling awareness or cognizance, but without becoming jittery from the nervous energy that is generated by caffeine.

Level Two Nicotine Effects

The next level of nicotine "intoxication" is similar to, but not the same as, the effect that results from drinking several alcoholic beverages. You may become a bit dizzy or light headed, but without the euphoria that alcohol produces. Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how a particular cigar affects you.

Level Three Nicotine Effects

Cigar sickness from a nicotine overdose occurs when you reach this level, which is a feeling that is similar to, but not the same as, sea sickness. You are not only dizzy, but you are sweating and feel nauseous. You never want to experience this feeling from smoking a cigar, but if it does happen, eat something sweet and drink plenty of water to help reduce the effects.


Again, it is important to realize that the vast majority of premium handmade cigars do not produce noticeable immediate nicotine effects, and the ratio of cigars in Level 3 (per my unscientific guesstimate based solely upon my own personal experience) is something less than 1 in 2,500. If you smoke a variety of different brands, you are more likely to eventually encounter a cigar that is just too strong for you, as opposed to someone who sticks with a few established favorites. In other words, for typical cigar smokers, the chance of getting sick from smoking only one brand of mild cigars (such as Macanudo Cafe) is significantly less than for those who smoke a different cigar every time they light up (but of course, this will always depend on the individual).

In a previous article on the FDA's desire to regulate cigars, it was suggested that cigars be voluntarily labeled by manufacturers to indicate how strong they are, according to a uniform industry-wide scale for measuring nicotine levels. This could work similar to the proof levels on alcoholic beverages. If the cigar industry can "regulate" itself and address various concerns and issues to help inform and protect its consumers, then there would be no need for the FDA to impose additional lugubrious regulations that would only raise the price of all cigars.

* Disclaimer: This piece has not been reviewed by a physician and information above may not be accurate. For information on the risks of cigar smoking that has been reviewed by a physician, please see the health hazards associated with cigar smoking.