Cigars vs Cigarettes – A Comparison

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Many people are quite surprised to learn that there are many differences between cigars and cigarettes beyond just their appearance.

While at first glance it’s indeed easy to tell that cigars are (mostly) quite a bit larger than cigarettes, there are also several other key differences, both physically as well as how they are smoked, that sets them apart.

In this article, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at the differences between cigars vs cigarettes.

We’ll look at not only the physical differences between the two types of tobacco products, but also how they are prepared, how they are smoked, and even examine why there can be such dramatic differences in pricing as well.

Cigars vs Cigarettes – Physical Differences

The most immediately noticeable difference between cigars and cigarettes are the obvious physical differences.

Nine times out of 10, cigars are much bigger and thicker than cigarettes are. Beyond just the size difference, how each of these products is manufactured is different as well.

Cigars are made entirely out of tobacco. The interior filler section of cigars is packed full of tobacco leaves that have been hand folded.

What surprises many cigar novices is the fact that the wrapper of cigars is a single large tobacco leaf that has been skillfully folded r to hold the tobacco leaves firmly in place.

On the other hand, cigarettes are filled with a variety of different tobacco plant parts. They mostly consist of the leaf stems, shredded tobacco leaves, and other miscellaneous plant by-products.

And while cigars are wrapped in an actual tobacco leaf, cigarettes are simply wrapped in paper with an attached filter.

Cigars vs Cigarettes – The Smoking Experience

The second most obvious difference between cigars and cigarettes is how they are smoked.

Cigarettes are rather easy to prepare and smoke. You simply pull a cigarette out of the box, light it, and start to take your drags.

If you roll your cigarettes, there’s a bit more to the preparation stages, but since the overwhelming majority of cigarette smokers purchase them by the box or carton, it’s typically quite a straightforward process to begin enjoying them.

Cigars, on the other hand, require a bit more prep work before you’re ready to light one up and enjoy. With any quality cigar, the first thing that you’ll have to do is remove the cap (usually with a cigar punch cutter) to allow the smoke to be drawn through the resulting gap into your mouth.

Cigars also don’t have any type of filter when compared to cigarettes. There are two important reasons for this. The first is that cigarettes typically contain quite a few additives that are mixed into the tobacco blend, which require filtering, so they don’t reach your lungs.

And speaking of lungs, that’s the second reason why cigars don’t have filters as cigarettes do, and another key difference in the smoking experience between the two products – you’re not supposed to inhale the smoke from a cigar like you would with a cigarette.

A single cigarette typically contains about 10mg of nicotine, while your average cigar can contain as much as 100-200mg.

For that reason, cigar smoke is only inhaled into the mouth and held there; on the other hand, cigarette smoke is inhaled deep into the lungs.

Finally, there is a difference in the amount of time it takes to smoke a cigar versus a cigarette.

You can light and finish a cigarette in less than five minutes while smoking an entire cigar can oftentimes take well over an hour.

Cigars vs Cigarettes

Cigars vs Cigarettes – Money Matters

Another huge difference between cigars and cigarettes is how much they cost. While it’s true that cigarettes are nowhere near as cheap (tax dollars!) to purchase in certain locations as they were years ago, they are still a vastly cheaper option compared to cigars.

On the other hand, there are cigars out there that cost as much as $507,000 per pop like the Mayan Sicar.

And while that is indeed a rather extreme example, it’s common to pay significantly more for quality cigars than it is for a pack of cigarettes.

The price difference starts to make a lot more sense when you stop to consider that a single cigar can contain as much tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes, while also containing up to 20 times the amount of nicotine – cigars tend to offer up a lot of bang for your buck!

To wrap things up, let’s once again briefly go over some of the key differences between the two products:


  • Wrapped in a large piece of leaf tobacco; no filter used
  • Filled with hand folded, bunched up tobacco leaves
  • Can take over an hour to smoke
  • Can contain between 100-200mg of nicotine
  • Prep work required – cap needs to be cut off
  • Smoke is inhaled into the mouth only and held


  • Wrapped in rolling paper with an attached filter
  • Filled with crushed tobacco leaves, stems, and other byproducts and additives
  • Take about 5 minutes to smoke on average
  • Contains about 10mg of nicotine per unit
  • Ready to smoke straight out of the package
  • Smoke is inhaled deep into the lungs

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are quite a few important differences between cigars and cigarettes. Some are immediately noticeable, while others are more subtle and often quite surprising.

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