Should we remove the band while smoking?

Should we remove the band while smoking?

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a reader. Here's what Lucas said in his e-mail:

"Thanks for your quality reviews, but please... take the labels off your cigars after you have started to smoke them. Keeping the label on for the duration is bad form and your credibility suffers. A little etiquette goes a long way."

I was very curious because I have never encountered this rule before. I asked Lucas whether I could make this a topic of conversation here at CigarInspector.com and he gladly accepted. He also added the following information:

"The thinking is this: After you have smoked the cigar for a few minutes, you should remove the label. The heat should loosen the band to make it easier to remove. The reason it is good etiquette is because a gentleman should not flaunt his wealth, or his cigars. If you are smoking a particularly good stogie there is no need to flash that Opus X label around. It's akin to wearing a lot of bling or praising yourself for some generous deed that you have done. No one likes a braggart. Getting to kick back and enjoy a fine smoke is what it's all about."

Do you remove the band when you are smoking? What do you think about this etiquette rule?

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47 Comments on “Should we remove the band while smoking?”

  1. CreekEnd UK says:

    Being a Brit I totally understand where this topic has come from – wot, wot.
    When we Brits still had some style which is not recently, we would have agreed that the bands should be removed unless wearing One’s white gloves, when the band should remain so as not to mark them.
    However, removing bands from some non-cubans can damage the wrapper as certain well mentioned firms seem to use superGlue these days.
    I my case I hate the cheap cello rubbish many non cubans come wrapped in much more than worrying about removing a band no one else would see and have damaged more cigars taking the cello off than the bands.

    Must rush – toodle pip,
    Roy.R
    Essex, England (UK)

  2. CreekEnd UK says:

    Just a quick addition to my above comment – the wearing of baseball style hats whilst smoking a fine cigar should alarm the person who started this debate more than any concern about band on/off – and dont get me started on the wearing of socks with sandals.

  3. Personally, I try to remove the band as soon as possible. If it’s loose before lighting it – it’s gone. But I do it for me….not for anyone else.
    For reviewing purposes and pictures, I think leaving the band on is a good idea. But for personal smoking, in my opinion, it’s personal preference. “am I doing this right?” is a question you shouldn’t bother yourself with if you’re enjoying a fine cigar.

  4. L. S. Russell says:

    I agree with all the above. We are no longer bound by, nor do we even consider the authority of, Emily Post’s Etiquette in Society. We don’t poke our pinky fingers out when drinking a cup of tea. IMHO if it costs the cigar’s integrity the band can stay. If I want to continue smoking the nub, the band can go.

  5. Like some of the other thoughts listed here, I do remove the band, either prior to smoking, or once the cigar heats up. But I do it for myself, not to hide what I am smoking or so that I do not flaunt what I am smoking. I really could care less what someone thinks about the specific cigar I am smoking unless I am with a group of fellow cigar lovers.

  6. I’ve never been one of those people who care what others think about me. I leave the bands on until its time to (burn line), or if the band is really loose I’ll take it off earlier (annoyance). but like Joe Bob said, I do it for me… I enjoy cigars the way I enjoy them, and to presume to say there is one and only proper way of doing things doesn’t fly with me.

  7. I remove the band when it can be easily done without damaging the cigar. Sometimes that is not until the burn has almost reached the band.

    That said since photos are being used for reviews does it not help to identify the cigar by leaving it on?

  8. Band off, band on. Give me a break. You talk like all of you only smoke in some kind of elite cigar smoke palace. Your probably at your local tobacconist smoking a cigar you bought there, in your back yard or sitting around after work with friends who can care less. In fact it makes for good discussion among people what they are smoking. I for one would like the input of someone next to me smoking a $20 Davidoff. Heck I might want to try one.

  9. Cigar Command says:

    Ah, I was wondering when this debate would poke its head again. I’m of the “who cares” side of this debate. Yes, I can understand that it may be considered rude, but if I’m smoking a nice cigar, I probably have one to give to the person who doesn’t have one to smoke.

    Now, can we move onto the more important and yet unanswered topic of “should you leave the cello on when storing cigars?” <— that’s a joke.

  10. F1CohibaGuy says:

    I fully disagree with the notion that you should remove the band. Cigar smoking is one of the most inviting and topical subjects for complete strangers to use as a reason strike up a pleasant conversation. The band serves as a catalyst for one person to ask another about that particular cigar if they’ve never smoked it before or to ask why they like it; where to buy it. That leads to the subject of other cigars and so forth and so on. Do you rip the cover off of the book you read?? Of course not. Nuff said.

  11. CreekEnd UK says:

    another reason to remove the band – whenever that happens in my own case – is to make a note on the back of if i liked them or not.
    you are lucky in the US for your choice and I have to import them so might not revisit a brand for a year or two.
    Smoking about 5 to 10 a week and keeping a few hundred in humidors can see me checking the bands i’ve kept to see whats worth re-ordering.

    Also there may be a lot of protocols etc around cigar smoking WE want to keep, but the reason why we smoke is the same either side of the pond.

    Roy.R
    UK

  12. I pretty much remove them when I can. I’ve can remember a cigar or two that had a really big band that needed to come off before I lit it just because it annoyed me. If the band is really loose, I go ahead and take it off. If it requires me to smoke to the band before the glue is loose, that’s what I do.

  13. Leave the band on! It provides a reference to what you are smoking and allows you to graphically present the product when asked “that smells good, what is that”? Those of us that leave the labels on are not flaunting our cigars or our wealth (NOT). But being that we are enjoying (or not) the cigar we serve as advertisements for all those responsible for the creation of the cigar. My 2¢!

  14. I do remove the band, mainly so that I can smoke a good cigar further down than the label placement allows.

    I agree with the other posters that it is good form not to “show off” when you’re enjoying an expensive smoke.

    I’m glad that previous posters mentioned letting the cigar warm up to soften the glue on the band. I get ticked when removing the band puts a tear or hole in the wrapper and the cigar doesn’t draw as well, as a result.

    I think that manners are always appropriate, but should not be used to make others feel uncomfortable, which is the height of bad manners. I think that anything that causes us to act better toward others is appropriate, as there is too much coarse and inappropriate behavior in the world already.

    Enjoy your smokes gentlemen and ladies. I’m going to enjoy mine, with or without the band. ;)

  15. Another thing I was thinking…

    Personally, I find a cigar to much more visually appealing without a band of any kind. No matter how pretty or shiny that band may be.

  16. Unless the band’s at the foot of the cigar (ahem), I always leave it in place as long as possible for two reasons:
    1) Who knows whether the band’s loosened sufficiently?
    2) With a wildly out-of-control burn-line, the band acts as a stay so the burn can correct itself.

    As far as removing the band due to reasons of etiquette – in an age where we judge each other by our clothing, cars, iPods, cellphones and ‘bling’ – I think it’s more likely to be considered pretentious that you’ve intentionally removed your cigar band so passers-by won’t be overwhelmed by your ostentatious wealth.

  17. I use the band to mark a place to keep my fingers. I don’t want to cause any additional wear and tear on the wrapper as I rotate the cigar while smoking. I take the band off when the burn line approaches, the added heat softens the glue up. Sometimes in mixed company I will take off a band to not “boast” my cigar.

  18. Interesting topic. I’ve gotten more into cigars over the last year but this is the first I’ve heard of the etiquette of when to remove the band. On or off, when to remove, etc. has never really crossed my mind. I agree with others that for review and pics it’s great to have the band on. When I’m smokin’ it’ll stay on til I’m ready. That might be pre-light, first, second or final third. I’ve made the mistake of taking it off too soon and then damaging the wrapper. So, to each his own. Do what feels right but never at the pressure others.

  19. This explains why my dog, Holly, looks at me with such disdain when I am smoking my cigar on the balcony with her. I had no idea I was being offensive by leaving on the band. I just thought it was the smoke!

    In a similar vein, is it then off-putting to ask another what brand they are smoking? I am occasionally asked that when puffing at my B&M.

  20. I read that the cigar band was first used to protect the fingers of royals from being stained by tobacco!

  21. I think that the original argument went like this.
    In polite society one does not speak of Money, Politics, or Religion.
    Showing your cigar band is the same as talking about how much it cost you, and so is the same as speaking about money.
    So, if you are in polite society and smoking a cigar, remove the band (unless you’ve got your gloves on).
    Now, would someone please tell me where I can go and smoke a cigar in polite society?
    Most of the yahoos at my local cigar bar wouldn’t know the difference between a Connie and a Cohiba.

  22. Alexandre Mello says:

    I only remove it when I am smoking something really cheap and shameful.

    :-)

    Eh eh eh . Just being silly.

    No, I don’t remove it at first. But I often do it when the ash is getting close to the band and the heat makes it easier. I never thought about this subject in that light, though. Maybe it’s because, being poor, I seldom smoke “flaunty” stogies. Eh eh eh.

  23. Generally, I only pull a cigar from my humidor if it has a band that easily slips off. Much like panties. When the time is right, it’s very clear. I’ve found that if a band requires picking, the stick’s still swollen with moisture, and with stronger sticks I’ve found this often means there’s a bit of ammonia-sting that can often be confused with “spice.”

    To me, the band has nothing to do with aspects of a cigar that involve smoking. Thus, I remove the paper that has god-knows-what in it–ink, bleach, toner, etc, that could, reasonably, when heated, taint the profile–before even taking it beyond my room or office in most cases.

  24. Creekend UK says:

    “Articles” has raised a very good point that was beyond my knowledge and experience – thanks for that.
    Roy.R
    England

  25. Saint Jimbob says:

    Aye, class-envy is a sad thing when among Lovers of the Leaf.

    I’m rarely consistent in when I take off the band. Sometimes, I’ll take it off before smoking (if it’s already loose) and other times I leave it on (in case of a fragile wrapper or cigar notorious for swelling and splitting).

    Many times, I’ll take the band off, only to end up wearing it on a finger. FYI, labels off VSG Tres Mystiques make great pinkie rings. ;-)

    How’s that for etiquette?

  26. rickey ricardo says:

    To remove the band or keep it on is really a personal preference. As for the etiquette you should always remove the band when smoking a better cigar than your host.

  27. Leave it on as long as you feel like. The conversations that cigars can bring about are much more interesting if you have a frame of reference. If I see someone smoking a padron 1926 I am going to ask about it. I will not think they are flaunting it. I saw let the bands fly. Life is more interesting that way.

  28. If I know that I will have the time to completely finish a smoke, I will remove the band. If I am in a room with multiple smokers, I will leave the band on to help ID the cigar if I sit it down.

  29. Alexandre Mello says:

    Rickey Ricardo wrote:

    “As for the etiquette you should always remove the band when smoking a better cigar than your host.”

    Philosophically OK, but practically not feasible. What is the criterion for considering the cigar I am smoking “better” than my neighbour’s? What if I find myself sharing a table with someone who’s smoking, say, an Epicure No.2… should I remove the band from my Partagas D4? Aren’t they equivalent cigars? I think it all boils down to the price of the cigar ($$$), but that, to me, is not a good standard for “better” cigar. My 2 cents…

  30. i say do what feels right, I like ’em naked but if it;s gonna teat the wrapper leave the band on, in the end smoke the stick!

  31. Saint Jimbob says:

    Ricky, maybe the solution to that conundrum, of smoking better cigars than your host, is to bring extra fine cigars to share with your host. This way, there’s no disparity, you’ve shown some courtesy and gratitude for your host’s hospitality. If I bring especially fine smokes to a herf, I always bring a couple more, in case others wish to smoke a similar cigar.

    I get invited places often :-)

  32. That is a stupid thing to say to a reviewer. I can see in a high standing situation there might be some logic here but a review literally has the name and brand of the cigar plastered all over it so the point of not flaunting what you are smoking is lost.

    Also screw that noise. I usually remove the band eventually because I collect them but that is just before the burn line gets there. I am not flaunting I just don’t feel like risking a tear in the wrapper before I need to.

  33. Honestly, I’d read about how those stuffy brits think it’s rude to leave the bands on so as not to seem boastful and a braggart. Whatever!! If ya got it, flaunt it I say! <<—just joking. :o) For me, I usually leave the band on, unless it's loose or really big, until the burnline approaches. Then I remove it. I actually like how the naked wrapper feels in my hand while smoking too…without the added shiny or colored piece of paper around it. So, I guess I employ both methods…but it definitely comes off @ some point. Never have I tossed a spent cigar w/ the wrapper still on…unless it was a piece of trash not worthy of smoking. (We've all run across a few of these).

  34. The desire to not show off or to engender envy in others is a natural part of being a Gentleman. Have we really come so far from shore that we don’t know what that means any more?

  35. NotAshowOff says:

    I work hard for my smokes and trying to remove bands on certain brands of smokes will destroy the wrapper until they are preheated. I know for a fact that most, if not all, Arturo Fuentes use strong glue between the band and wrapper. I care what you think I’m smoking like I care what kind of gas you put in your car. I also wear a baseball cap when I smoke in lounges. What matters most is how you carry yourself amongst other smokers. Most notice if your a douche by not saying hello or goodbye in a cigar lounge not what your smoking. And if your offended that I light up an Opus then I hope your offended by my $400 sneakers to match my hat.

  36. You would hate Australia, I just came back from a 6 month tour of the US and when you pay $12-30 for a great cigar, just remember that in australian an average CHEAP Romeo and Julieta will set you back $25-70 a stick. There is no such thing as a cheap priced cigar in Australia. so when I’m paying that, yeah, I think ill keep my band on instead of potentially ruining its wrapper, besides there practically worth $20 here. Don’t forget I’m using a cheap popular cigar just as a reference, don’t get me started on Cohiba, Opus, Monte etc and as for the hat thing, I wear my baseball cap and tracksuit pants while i smoke my $150 cigars, I think paying prices like that anyone deserve to be comfortable and wear what they want, is even a question that has to be asked (In fact from what your saying the whole point of this article is find out if having bands on is a form of showing off and that it shouldn’t matter what your choice of smoke is, any smart person would have to think that if bands shouldn’t matter why should a hat or clothes?!)… plus the way i dress you wouldn’t even realise i could probably buy your entire families assets (But because I’m saying this I’m the show off? no I’m simply putting it how it is), because i am dressed like a hood half the time (Meaning i like to wear comfortable clothes and due to the negative associations with track pants and baggy clothing, are suddenly not up to your standards) but hey thats Australia, can only tell your wealth by the bands on your cigars, and gold on your fingers, things that are material objects that an individual has for their own satisfaction. why wear an uncomfortable suit when you can do even more in comfy clothes. If you have appropriate etiquette and act how those around you do, why should clothes, bands or brands matter, especially when I’m the one paying the bill at the end of the night… Smh would hate to meet a pretentious cu*nt like you, your lucky you haven’t stuck your nose up at someone for dressing like me, you might be put in your place and realise you don’t have cent to your name in comparison. Son, Don’t judge a book by its cover. To this day I Regularly visit my home town and people i grew up with and make sure i do what i can to help them with any opportunities to work or study. You can’t even comment on what removing the band when you haven’t been on the other side at the bottom with nothing and built yourself from the ground up, the fact that you think the band could make you seem like a wealthier person is the answer to your own question in that you must think that others may envy you for it. grow up.
    FYI i am unsure as to why my previous message posted before i could finish typing it

  37. I only remove the band should I smoke that far down and the band could be set on fire, which is usually the case. Otherwise, it stays on.

  38. @Blake… this is a gentleman’s site…and I think your soapbox is a little too spring loaded.

    I think no matter who you are, where you are, it’s how you carry yourself that will you get remembered versus when you take the wrapper off.

    I for one remove them when the burnline gets near, and will use it to remember the brand, so if i like it I save it, if not it’s trashed.

  39. steve talbert says:

    I move the band to where I want to hold the cigar so I don’t have to wear gloves, my fingers smell like like tobacco, its there if needed, but people can’t really see it. LOL I’m a bad cigar person all this time I thought it was there for practical reasons. LOL

  40. Out_Door_Cigar says:

    The saying of old goes,”Men of good bone and blood take off the band out of respect to there surrounding friends, cause they don’t have to brag.” But being a peasant like most of us, we keep it on out of the sheer pride of cigar we are about to indulge. If you look at the old photos from 1800’s early 1900’s tell 1950’s you never see people smoking cigar with the band. Look at old black and white movies, they don’t have them on either. Churchill and Groucho Marx don’t have the band when smoking their cigars. It’s definitely a new era of cigar aficionado’s that we live in, there is no black and white rule any more. Personal preference. I do believe in freedom of choice.

  41. Share'em if you got'em says:

    I was reading an unrelated article recently that stated, “to leave the band on while smoking a cigar only serves to show your ignorance of tobacco smoking”. There was no explanation beyond that. Is that statement not pretentious in itself?

  42. Tyrone Beiron says:

    Seems fair enough that in this age of liberal non-conformity, everyone makes their own rules and no guide on good manners seem necessary. Ultimately, using an expensive product and keeping the branding is flauntibg and some feel it’s proper for them to do so. In this PC Generation, commenting on that behaviour means one is being critical and prejudicial. So everyone wants to be polite towards all sort of new behaviours which eventually become acceptable. We aren’t focussing on branding shots or pictures taken to highlight a make. But more people who are picking ip this enjoyable pastime are mistakenly doing it with lesser dignitt. It should not be about the ‘brand’ or make unless you are promoting one over another. Seated at a club, among peers or friends, the best is to remove the label. That’s not a rule, but being dignified. Anything else is about being a snob, simple as that even if some folks want to rebutt that’s being prejudicial. It’s simply good sense without denial.

  43. I live in South Africa. To be able to afford a cigar here, already proves a certain level of income, meaning that cigar smoking is an expensive act of indulgence. Leaving the band on, only identifies your taste or preference, as smoking a cigar is already showing off.

    Therefore – leaving the band on, simply opens the door for discussing the superb characteristics of your fine stogie or for yourself to enquire about the mysterious entity in your fellow smoker’s hand that is yet to be explored by yourself.

  44. My Dad was born in 1893 (me in 1949) He was an Old School adventurer and had lived in many parts of the world. When I was very young (10?) I remember him smoking cigars on a summer eve out on the porch, wearing Panama straw hat, in the darkness. I now wonder what his thoughts were. He had a large humidor, monogrammed and zinc lined. He always removed the band….and put it on my finger. I am inclined to think it was considered good manners…he is long gone, but I have currently noticed a change in that practice, as in most other behaviors he adhered to. If a cigar bars neighbors stick smells and looks appealing, I just ask.

  45. Christopher says:

    I think however you smoke your own cigars is your own business keep it on take it off it doesn’t matter it tastes the same way regardless of some one dont like I oh well I smoke mine with my ball cap on every day to so smoke them how ever makes yall happy

  46. Max Fischer says:

    Many years have passed obviously, but worth pointing out that this is the correct comment and the correct answer. Your dad did it because it’s simply the right thing to do.

    The endless “well I paid for it; I can do what I please!” and “what do I care what people think of me?!” comments aside (which have more to do with -you- and much less to do with your cigar), there are still things to learn and traditions to respect and behavior to promote. Take off that label, fellas. The longer it stays on, the greater your insecurity.

    Maybe one day a boy somewhere gets to remember his dad putting the label on his finger for fun. Sure sounds a whole lot more meaningful than jawing about pricetags and tracksuits.

    My two bits.™

  47. I can understand the etiquette argument. But I’ve been smoking super premium as well as cheap but good smokes where the bands wouldn’t impress anyone. And too be honest, I don’t think about anyone else except me legend it comes to labels. I usually keep the band on as long as possible and remove the band only if the cigar is burning close to the band. I find that some bands even on the premium products damage the wrapper. An when I’m smoking a great cigar nothing can ruin the experience like a cracking wrapper.
    Rich from New York

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