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What is a Cigarillo?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 23, 2024
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Cigarillo is a Spanish word that means "little cigar." In some places where Spanish is spoken, the term is used to refer to a regular cigarette, but in most English-speaking regions and other areas, the Spanish term refers to a small cigar. Cigarillos are both shorter and narrower than cigars, at about 3 inches (7.6 cm) long and about 0.25 inches (6 mm) in diameter. A cigarillo typically is wrapped in whole-leaf tobacco and might come with a plastic filter attached or no filter. Like cigars, cigarillos are sold both individually and in packs.

Flavors

Commonly referred to as a “seven-minute cigar” in Europe, a cigarillo is often marketed as a more tasteful alternative to cigarettes. It comes in various flavors, such as cinnamon, apple and vanilla. Other common flavors include cherry, chocolate, coconut, peach and strawberry.

Tobacco Content

Unlike the smoke from a cigarette, the smoke from a cigarillo is not meant to be inhaled. Cigarillos contain about three times the tobacco content of cigarettes, at roughly 3 grams per unit. Many cigarillo manufacturers use chemically homogenized tobacco instead of 100 percent tobacco to keep manufacturing costs and prices low. Cigarillos made of 100 percent tobacco are not always necessarily of higher quality, however, because the blend of tobacco is the biggest determinant to the quality and taste of the cigarillo.

The tobacco contained in a cigarillo typically comes from Brazil, the Dominican Republic or Cuba. Cigarillo tobacco leaf wrapping often comes from a different region than the tobacco with which it is filled. Many people who smoke cigarillos smoke them in quantities that make it unnecessary for the cigarillos to be stored in humidors.

Packaging

Unlike cigars and cigarettes, cigarillos might be sold in very small packs, such as in units of four. These are sometimes referred to as "kiddie packs," a name that has caused concern in countries where some people believed that this type of packaging targets children and adolescents. The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires all countries to include warning labels on tobacco products, regardless of whether the product is sold in single units or packages. These labels are required to be highly visible — at least 30 percent of the product’s package size.

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