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Cigar Smoking Championship Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

(Darren Cioffi via Facebook)
(Darren Cioffi via Facebook)

Cigar smoking aficionados from around the world will descend on Copenhagen this weekend, for the next round of the Cigar Smoking World Championship.

Last year’s winner, Darren Cioffi, became the first American to win the world championship, and he also owns the Nashville cigar maker Principal Cigars. He talked about cigars and competitive smoking with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

“It’s a slow smoking event, so everyone’s given the exact same cigar, which is fairly small,” Cioffi said. “It’s the type of cigar you might smoke in 20 or 30 minutes. The main goal is to smoke it for as long as possible without the cigar going out.”

While a competitive smoking title has its own brand of prestige in the cigar world, the competition won’t have spectators on the edge of their seats.

“You’re really dancing on the edge of not smoking at all. I always say it’s simultaneously incredibly exciting and the world’s most boring activity, because you’re barely puffing away at the cigar,” Cioffi said. “And then they make it even more complicated with a whole bunch of other rules. You can’t blow on it, you can’t blow through it, you can’t set it down. Before I ever competed, when I read the list of rules I was a little bit scared, it sounded kind of daunting, but it’s actually very fun.”

“I always say it’s simultaneously incredibly exciting and the world’s most boring activity, because you’re barely puffing away at the cigar.”– Darren Cioffi

So what’s the strategy? Cioffi says it’s all about preparation. After that, experience takes over.

“It’s really anybody’s game,” he said. “I mean, 50 percent of it is the cigar you select. If you understand how cigars are made, and you know how to select a good cigar; you have half the battle right there. Beyond that, it becomes your skill, knowing how the cigar is burning, knowing what it might do based on what it’s doing. If you’re a real cigar smoker, you do have a shot at these things.”

The health questions surrounding competitive smoking are obvious. But Cioffi says cigars are meant to be enjoyed, and always in moderation.

“If you smoke cigars in the fashion that one smokes cigarettes, I’d be very worried about your health,” he said. “But I’m in the cigar industry and it’s my life, and I smoke less than a cigar a day. It’s really something to be enjoyed, and especially when you’re doing it at the level that I am, you’re smoking very special stuff that you really look forward to, and that is a premium thing to be enjoyed on special occasions.”


Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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