All cigars contain nicotine as well as other natural substances, but machine made cigars also contain chemical preservatives. If you smoke handmade cigars, then you are smoking 100% tobacco. However, unless the tobacco was grown organically, it is possible that some residue from pesticides has not yet dissipated if the cigar was not aged long enough. Therefore, to reduce your chances of getting sick, avoid machine made cigars, and also be careful with cheaper handmade bundled cigars that may need to spend some time in your humidor before being smoked.
I have been smoking handmade cigars for about 17 years and never got sick – until a few days before writing this article. Getting sick myself was all the inspiration I needed to finally write something about cigar sickness. And yes, I now know first hand that it is possible to get sick from smoking a cigar that is just too strong, and that a nicotine overdose is not a whole lot of fun. The symptoms are nausea, dizziness, and sweating. It felt almost like a milder case of sea sickness. If this happens to you, stop smoking the cigar at once, drink some water, and eat something sweet. A sugar cube or pure sugar works best, but candy or anything sweet will help (unless you are a diabetic). I had to kick back and relax for a while, but I really didn't fully recover until after I ate something.
Although I may not again smoke the same line of cigars that caused the sickness (at least for some time to come), I have no intention of giving up cigars. If you are an experienced cigar smoker, you already know that getting sick from smoking a cigar is a very rare event. Most cigar smokers whom I know have never gotten sick by smoking a cigar. If you are a beginner, you should not worry about cigar sickness, nor give up this most enjoyable pastime, if you have a bad reaction to one cigar. Unless you are allergic to tobacco, you can avoid cigar sickness altogether by following this advice:
- Do not inhale or swallow cigar smoke. Puff on the cigar and blow the smoke out of your mouth.
- Do not smoke too fast. Puff on your cigar no more than one or two times per minute.
- Do not draw too hard on your cigar. If a cigar is packed too tight or is partially plugged, try another cigar.
- Do not smoke strong cigars. Beginners should select mild to medium cigars. Ask your tobacconist, surf this website for reviews and recommendations, and/or select cigars made with Connecticut Shade wrappers and mild Dominican filler tobaccos.
- For some people, eating before smoking can reduce the chance of getting sick, as well as drinking a beverage while smoking a cigar.