In 1492, during the famed Christopher Columbus expedition, there was a young crewman on board by the name of Rodrigo de Jerez. Now, Rodrigo sailed on The Santa Maria and is not a well known historical figure — not nearly as famous as Columbus — but it was actually Jerez who was not only responsible for discovering tobacco but was also it’s first documented addict.

Take that, Columbus.

In October of 1492, Jerez and his crew landed in what is now the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas and when they arrived the natives of the island brought the explorers gifts — pottery, fish, berries as well as bundles of a dried leaf that the natives burned for fragrance. The crew took the gifts, but quickly discarded the leaves as they saw no use for them.

A month later — November of that same year — Jerez noticed the natives were smoking these very leaves. They would take the leaves and pack them tightly inside of palms, light the ends and suck in the smoke. Jerez was amazed at this and later described the act as; drinking in the smoke.

Jerez tried smoking. He liked it.

When Rodrigo de Jerez returned to Spain — this time on The Nina — he brought his new habit and a large supply of tobacco with him. This supply was soon in huge demand as Jerez introduced many of his friends and neighbors to smoking tobacco.

Everything went well for Jerez — for a while — until many of his neighbors became concerned. After all, everyone knew that only The Devil could breath smoke. This opinion was also shared by members of The Spanish Inquisition — who were very active at the time and were not known for their tolerance of new things.

Rodrigo de Jerez was arrested and held in prison for questioning.

His questioning lasted seven years.


Smoking a cigar is a very social act — much different then smoking a cigarette. One of the main reason  for this is that a cigar is so tightly packed that it takes much longer to smoke then a cigarette — in fact, depending on the size, a cigar can take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour to smoke. Which is plenty of time to golf nine holes, catch a few fish, play several hands of cards or simply sit around the fire and trade some lies. A cigar is something to be savored. Enjoyed.

Cut the cigar. A cigar comes with an open end — to light — and a closed end — to draw in. The closed end will need to be cut in order to smoke the cigar and, yes, in desperate situations we have all simply bit the end of the cigar off. It works. But you will be spitting bits of cigar paper and tobacco out all night. A cigar cutter is a little guillotine- like device that’s sold in cigar stores — for usually less then a dollar. It creates a smooth straight line at the end of the cigar.

Light the cigar. A true cigar aficionado will tell you that a cigar will need to be lit by a match — preferably a wooden one — and never lit by a lighter. The reason is that it’s believed the butane smell can transfer through to the cigar — think of the difference between cooking a steak over charcoal as apposed to cooking it on a gas grill.  Also, as you are lighting it, rotate the cigar so the end is lit evenly.

Hold the cigar. The say — you know, them, the experts — that the right way to hold a cigar is between your index finger and thumb. But that way always felt strange to me. I always hold them between the pointer and the ring finger — just like you would a cigarette.

Don’t inhale. Now, you’re not supposed to inhale the smoke from your cigar and you’ll know it when you do. Cigar tobacco is pretty tough stuff and your throat will scream if you pull it in. Simply draw into your mouth, enjoy the flavor and draw out.

When to quit. There is no set place when to put the cigar out — no filter like on a cigarette. But you will know. Either when the flame is too hot against your hand or when the taste becomes too strong — usually down to the last third of the cigar — it’s time to put that baby out. When putting out a cigar don’t crush it on an ashtray like a cigarette. Just place it in an on the rim of the ashtray and allow it to go out on it’ s own.


Everett De Morier has appeared on CNN, Fox News Network, NPR, ABC, as well as in The New York Times and The London Times. He is the author of Crib Notes for the First Year of Marriage: A...