Smoking cigars is something I’ve been partaking in actively now for 5 years–prior to that, it was whenever I saw one while out. I grew intrigued by the allure and the class of people who took part in cigar smoking. My preference is a full-bodied cigar. Cigars have been loosely deemed not as harmful as smoking a cigarette; yet, I began partaking in cigar smoking without knowing what’s really in a cigar. Continue reading for a brief history on cigars, its chemical makeup and the difference in cigars and cigarettes.
The makeup of a cigar is not a mystery, seek the information and you shall find it. Cigars date back to Christopher Columbus’ time when he visited Cuba and witnessed Cubans smoking crude cigars. Since this discovery cigars became known to other parts of the world from expeditionary means by people who brought them to their home countries which led to increased popularity and production. Cigars are now a worldwide vice for many men and even women in modern times.
Over 11 billion cigars are sold annually in the U.S., from that figure 300 million are hand-made cigars. The production of cigars are either machine-made or hand rolled. Only fine cigars are hand rolled; the majority of cigars sold are machine made. The construction of the cigars I’ll be discussing is hand rolled. A tobacco leaf has to go through many transformations prior to being made a cigar. These leaves are harvested by hand; the tobacco plants are seeded indoors for 6 to 10 weeks then transplanted into the fields. The particular leaves that are used for the wrapper are typically kept covered with cloth as a protection from the sun or grown in the shade. The next phase is curing, in this step the tobacco leaves forms it’s distinctive aroma. In curing the leaves are strung to laths then hung from the ceiling in a tobacco barn as they mature from green to brown. After this period the leaves are sorted and shaped to create the cigar.
A cigar is composed of three layers. Beginning from the inside out is the filler, these are the inner leaves that is primarily used for flavor, these leaves don’t have to be perfect as the are typically small and broken apart as no stems cannot be in the filler or else the cigar will not burn evenly. There are three types of filler leaves, light seco, medium thickness vesco and thickest laharo. Outside the filler is the binder leaves that hold it together and the outer largest fine leaf and most important leaf is the wrapper.
A cigar roller is known as a torcedore and he/she cuts the wrapper with a chavette knife. A toecedore is a very skilled profession and takes at least one year of training to perfect the craft of cigar rolling. The cigar must be rolled in a perfect cylinder shape; once the mold is created the cigar is secured on the end with a vegetable adhesive to keep it together. The final step is fermentation a cigar has to ferment for a minimum of six months for standard cigars–to two-to-five years for high-quality cigars. During fermentation, the leaves develop its aroma and taste.
A cigar is pure in its natural state when hand-rolled. At no time should a cigar be confused with the make-up of a cigarette. In summary a cigarette, on the other hand, has the components of 20% expanded tobacco stems, and reclaim expired old cigarettes, 30% recon which is a mixture of strip steams and tobacco dust from the factory floor and 50% tobacco treated with chemicals. Although cigars and cigarettes both contain tobacco the make-up of a cigarette is completely different.
The agricultural factor in cigars is the tobacco leaf; the main chemical in cigars is nicotine which can be habit-forming. Cigarettes contain reconstitute tobacco that includes additives which increases the potency of nicotine to its maximum level making the entire stick addictive. Cigars, however, contain more tobacco than a cigarette; the equivalent of one cigar can be equivalent to two packs of cigarettes. Conversely, even though cigars contain more tobacco– cigarettes contain additives that enhance its addictive qualities by 10 to 100 times–thus this is why it’s so hard for cigarette smokers to kick the habit. Another distinctive fact is cigarettes are inhaled while cigars are puffed in and quickly puffed out which doesn’t expose the body to too much nicotine making it less harmful and less addictive and overall it’s a purer product. Nevertheless, science states that both pose the risk of cancer according to the Journal of Primary Prevention, however the health risks for those who smoke cigars less than daily are unknown therefore moderation is key.