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A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of cured tobacco leaves which is lit for the purpose of inhaling (or merely drawing into the mouth rather than into the lungs) its smoke (see tobacco smoking). The word "cigar" is from the Spanish word cigarro, which is possibly derived from the Maya language word sik meaning tobacco. The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, suggests that it is from cigarra, the Spanish word for "cicada", due to its shape (specifically of what is now called the perfecto).

Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in such nations as Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, and the United States of America.

Cigars manufactured in Cuba are considered by many cigar smokers to be without peer. At one time, this may have been unarguably true, but in the present day, even the most elite of cigar cognoscenti have admitted that the best of non-Cuban cigars have come up to the quality level of Habanos. Some United States smokers object to and circumvent continuing trade sanctions imposed by the government of the USA against Cuban goods.

History of the cigar

The cigar was smoked throughout the islands of the Caribbean Sea and in Mesoamerica for centuries before the Europeans discovered the Americas in the late 15th century.

In the 19th century cigar smoking was common while cigarettes were still comparatively rare. The cigar business was an important industry, factories employed many people before mechanized manufacturing of cigars became practical.

High quality cigars are still made by hand.

Cigar manufacturing

Chopped up tobacco leaves are used for the filling of a low-grade cigar, and long leaves or even a type of "paper" made from tobacco pulp is used for the wrapper which binds the cigar together. Some cigars use different varieties of tobacco for the filler and the wrapper. "Long filler cigars" are a far higher quality of cigar, using long leaves throughout. These cigars also use a third variety of tobacco leaf, a "binder", between the filler and the outer wrapper. This permits them to use more delicate and attractive leaves as a wrapper.

Cigars and Health

Cigar smokers typically do not inhale the smoke, instead puffing it into their mouths, not reaching their lungs, unlike cigarette smokers. Cigar smokers consequently have lower incidence of lung cancer and emphysema than cigarette smokers. Some people have mistakenly assumed that cigars therefore pose no health risk, but cigar smokers are statistically more likely to develop cancer of the mouth, tongue, and larynx than non smokers.

Types of Cigars

The wrapper of cigars are broadly catagorized by their color.

Cigars are commonly categorized by the size and shape of the cigar, which together are known as a vitelo. The most common shape is the parejo, which has a cylindrical body and a round cap.

The parejos include the following vitelos (from smallest to largest)

Irregularly-shaped cigars are known as figurados and are sometimes considered of higher quality because they are more difficult to make. Figurados include the following:

Other types of cigars: