What is the difference between a cigar and a cigarette?

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What is the difference between a cigar and a cigarette?

You should use the terms cigars and cigarettes sparingly. The word ‘cigar’ might be in the word cigarette, and both are tobacco-based products, but the similarities end there.

We will guide you through the differences between cigars and cigarettes so you never get confused.

Cigars vs. Cigarettes


If you put a cigar and cigarette side-by-side, the most noticeable differences are the size and shape. Cigars are far bigger and chunkier than cigarettes and last longer. Even a Petit Corona (the smallest hand-rolled stogie) that typically measures 4 ½ inches, with a ring gauge of 39 to 42, will give you 30 minutes of smoking time.

Conversely, a cigarette is much slimmer and thinner. The length of the cigarette varies from 70mm (regular) to 120mm (known as 120s), with the average time to smoke a cigarette just 6-7 minutes.


Cigarettes are tube-shaped products. While their length may vary, their trademark narrow cylindrical shape does not.

Cigars have two main shape types: figurados and parejos, which are then broken down into various sizes.

Parejos (straight-sided cigars) are comfortably the most common cigar shape and must be cut before smoking. They have a rounded head and usually an open foot ready for lighting. Churchills, Robustos, and Toros are all examples of parejos-shaped cigars.

Figurados are any cigars that aren’t straight-sided. Creative shapes like the Torpedo with its pointed head and the Perfecto with its rare, closed foot and pronounced bulge in the middle, are becoming more widespread in the cigar industry.

Another physical difference between cigars and cigarettes is the use of a filter. Cigarettes usually have filtered ends, whereas cigars are unfiltered. 

Now we’ve picked their physical features apart, let’s look at how cigars and cigarettes are made.

Are cigars and cigarettes made from the same tobacco?

Cigars can be either hand-rolled or machine-made (known as cigarillos). Handmade stogies are known for their elegance and exceptional craftsmanship — their production takes time and expertise.

On the other hand, cigarettes are mass-produced by machines and wrapped in paper. The tobacco is manufactured with granulated tobacco.

The creation of a stogie is much more arduous than cigarettes, with stop-offs including the tobacco fields, curing barns, sorting and fermentation, the rolling room, quality control, and finally, the aging room. Cigars are made entirely from naturally harvested tobacco leaves. They are wrapped in pure tobacco leaves, with the binder (a tough, coarse tobacco leaf) used to keep the filler blend intact.

The filler blend comprises various tobacco leaves contributing to a cigar’s unique aroma and taste. Like all parts of the handmade cigar-making process, a wealth of knowledge, patience, and skill goes into blending.

Are cigars and cigarettes smoked the same?

Another factor that separates cigars and cigarettes is how they’re consumed. Cigarettes are smoked and immediately inhaled for a quick kick. They are ideal for the hectic nature of modern lifestyles, as they don’t come with a complexity of flavor that should be appreciated at a leisurely pace.

The smoke should only be remanded in your mouth before exhaling to achieve the most flavorful smoke experience. This enables the aroma and flavor to blend pleasantly in your mouth.

There’s even an art to preparing (cutting and lighting) your stogie. You have to remove enough of the cap to allow airflow through the cigar and allow proper combustion. The cigar foot needs to be gently and evenly toasted to avoid uneven burning, taking care to ensure the flame doesn’t come into direct contact with the tobacco. Unlike smoking a cigarette, this requires patience.

Cigar vs. cigarette culture

Cigars are habitually associated with luxury, deemed a more sophisticated pastime than cigarettes. They make great gifts and are often enjoyed at celebratory events (arrival of a new baby, milestone birthdays, weddings, etc.), golf courses, poker parties, etc. Many cigar enthusiasts also meet with fellow stogie lovers at cigar lounges to share stories, have a drink, and of course, discuss their favorite smokes.

Cigar smoking is often more irregular as they take longer to smoke, so the aroma and flavors can be savored. Like sipping a vintage bottle of wine, cigar lovers value every draw, with every stick giving them a fresh, intriguing experience to help further develop their palate.

Oppositely, cigarettes all taste the same and won’t even give you 10 minutes of smoking time. Note our use of the word ‘time’ rather than ‘enjoyment’.

What’s the difference in cost between a cigar and a cigarette?

Because cigars are more refined than cigarettes, they typically come at a higher cost. Premium handmade smokes can range in price from $4 to $30, while a pack of 20 cigarettes will set you back around $10. If you think cigars are overpriced compared to cigarettes, you might want to think again.

You’ve then got to consider the quality of the finished product. Cigars have different colored wrapper shades, boasting dazzling colors, logos, and patterns. Cigars can be bought as singles or in beautifully designed presentation boxes (usually between 5 and 25 sticks). The slide-lid boxes exude luxury, are usually made from cedar or mahogany, and are embellished with crests, logos, and seals.

Final thoughts

It’s important to remember that a quality premium cigar doesn’t have to cost the earth. Stogies can play a poignant part in many parts of your life. Whether it’s finding a stogie to pair with your favorite alcoholic drink, a gathering of friends, or smoking a cigar that takes you down memory lane to your wedding day, the subtle flavor notes in a cigar can be incredibly rewarding and transcending.

The same can’t be said about a packet of cigarettes, which don’t possess the potency or recognizability from the smell of a toasting cigar. They lack a sense of sophistication and relaxation.

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