Many smokers, especially first-timers, report getting sick from cigars. Everything is going well when suddenly bad feelings start to brew. Skin gets clammy, nausea sets in, and your head starts to swim. The next thing you know, you’re planted over the wastebasket, throwing up, and swearing never to touch another cigar again.
Fortunately, much like with alcohol, many people come back for another try and have much better experiences the next time around. This is because getting sick from a cigar is largely within the smokers’ control.
It’s true that with some cigars, there are residual pesticides still on the tobacco, or chemical preservatives have been mixed in. One cure for this is to try to avoid the cheapest of the cheap machine-made cigars and stick to quality handmade cigars. Another way around it is to let your cigars air out for some time in your humidor before lighting up. But these “tainted” sticks are in the minority when it comes to getting sick from smoking. Most of the time, it happens for these main reasons:
Smoking too fast
Smoking cigars that are stronger than you’re used to
Or the beginners’ trifecta: all three at once! In an effort to join the cigar smokers’ club, a newbie will huff on a stick like a white settler trying to impress an Indian tribe at a peace pipe ceremony, only to black out and wake up on the floor, covered in their own sick, with a half-lit nub in hand. Not cool. Don’t forget, however, that this can happen to experienced smokers, too, who forget the basic guidelines for cigar smoking. Don’t be that guy.
Smoke slowly – a puff or two each minute. You’re not a human smoke factory and you aren’t getting paid for smoke production. You’re just relaxing and enjoying yourself, so take it easy. When you smoke too quickly, you get too much nicotine and can easily overwhelm yourself. As with any of life’s little vices, you don’t want to get in too deep, too fast. Take your time and keep your head attached to your shoulders.
Don’t inhale – this isn’t what cigars are meant for. Even if you’re a regular cigarette smoker, you may get sick from inhaling an entire cigar, especially an intense one. Savor the flavor then blow it away. That’s how it’s done.
Work your way up – to stronger, longer-lasting cigars. Start with mild cigars that feature Connecticut wrappers and Dominican tobaccos. Then move on to medium-bodied cigars and continue on if things go well. Before you know it, you’ll be in triple-fermented Maduro country, but don’t try to do too much at once. Your body needs time to adjust to new things.
If you get sick, stop. Have some water and move to a seat in a place with fresh air. Let the storm pass. If you need to puke, go for it. Then rest.
Eating before smoking may help, as may drinking along with smoking. Some think it gives the body a bit of a buffer between organ tissue and the smoke. Try it out, and if it works for you, keep it up. If not, no worries.
Ventilation can be helpful. If you’re a new smoker, going down into an aficionado’s smoke dungeon with no windows for a four-person smoke session will probably make you sick even if you don’t light up. Avoid hot boxing until you’re more comfortable with cigar smoke. (Also, for those that are too frugal to buy cigars but still want the experience, just hang out with smokers. After all, every shark needs a remora!)
At the end of the day, smoking is about enjoyment, not proving that you can “take it,” so go slowly and enjoy. And if you get sick, now you’ll know it was probably your own darn fault.
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